Series: Evie Brooks #1
Published by O'Brien Press on March 3rd 2014
After Evie Brooks’ mother dies her American uncle Scott, whom Evie barely remembers, arrives in Dublin. Much to Evie’s dismay, she’ll have to go and live with Scott in New York City.
However, having never owned a pet more substantial than a gold�fish, Evie is intrigued by her uncle’s NYC veterinary practice. Scott engages Evie as an assistant in the clinic. Thus begins a series of light-hearted adventures with lovable animals and their sometimes lovable owners.
At the end of the summer, Evie has to make the choice of whether or not to return to live in Ireland with her godmother, Janet...
MAROONED IN MANHATTAN was such a fun read. Fresh, witty and filled with wonderful characters, it’s definitely made the list of my favourite middle-grade contemporaries.
Introducing us to our heroine, Evie Brooks, we begin in Ireland at Evie’s mother’s funeral. Her father has been out of the picture for years and Evie expects to live with her Godmother Janet. Thrown not only by the death of her mother, she also has to deal with the revelation that her Uncle Scott from New York is her legal guardian and expects her to move to America with him. Evie makes a deal; she’ll give the US a try for the summer as long as Scott lets her come back to Ireland in September if she wants. With Scott’s agreement, Evie heads to America for a summer of thrills, spills and plenty of hijinks helping out her uncle in his veterinary practise. Will America and Scott win her over or will the call of home prove too alluring?
The problem I find with Middle-Grade fiction is there can be little to no conflict, everything gets resolved too easily so as an adult reviewing the book it can prove troublesome. Not the case here, I was enthralled by Evie’s development throughout the novel and how she handled the situations thrown at her. I love how despite the death of her mother, she refused to let her grief overpower her but instead channelled it in a positive way, immersing herself in the American way of life and happily getting stuck in and working in Scott’s Veterinary clinic. As the daughter of a travelling actor, Evie is used to new situations and not letting the unfamiliar get her down and I love how positive her attitude is and how great a role model she is for younger readers.
I loved her spunky, can-do outlook but I equally loved the moments where she showed her age and just how vulnerable she was, opening up to her uncle, those were the moments that really pulled at the heartstrings and I loved that added depth amongst the lighter, comedic moments.
The setting was a thrill for two reasons; Agnew paints a great picture of New York and you really got a feel for the atmosphere, the hustle and bustle and just how special and unique a city it really is. The idea of setting most of the action in and around the veterinary clinic was inspired; I don’t think there are many kids who at some point didn’t want to be a Vet so it was an added bonus to learn titbits about all the animals and how to care from them.
I also loved how Agnew didn’t just focus on the kids and Evie’s story but developed the adults really well too. I was equally interested to read about their lives outside of their interactions with Evie and Agnew even hinted at a ‘ship that I would happily sail away on and can’t wait to see how it develops in the later books.
All in all, Marooned in Manhattan is a great introduction to Evie and her fresh, unique voice and is a fabulous début from Sheila Agnew whom I am eager to hear more from.