My book club has a rating scale and we each painstakingly rate our monthly book selections down to the half-star:
5 stars – I wish I could read it again for the first time.
4 stars – I would recommend it to a stranger.
3 stars – It was good.
2 stars – Meh.
1 star – I wish I could unread it.
I give out the fewest 5-star ratings of everyone in the group (I’m always complaining about the bad writing and the poor character development). But I knew I would give When Mischief Came to Town 5 stars as soon as we finished the first chapter.
Katrina Nannestad’s middle grade novel tells the story of Inge Maria, a Danish girl born near the turn of the 20th century and raised in relative freedom and sophistication in Copenhagen. When Inge Maria’s mother dies, she is sent to the tiny island of Bornholm to live with a stern and serious grandmother she has never met. The girl quickly learns that nearly everyone and everything faces high expectations on Bornholm. She tries to be good, but longs for the days when she was allowed to chase friends in the schoolyard and sing and dance at music class.
Am I making the book sound sad? The beautiful thing is that despite tackling serious subjects like loss and grief, this book is full of joy. Inge Maria’s proclivity for mischief is partly accidental, partly due to a stubborn streak paired with poor choices, and always hilarious. Together, the girl and her grandmother sort through the new and old feelings that collide in their budding relationship, told through amusing anecdotes about life on the farm. And a cast of the island’s characters that seems drab upon first introduction gains life as the book progresses.