It's 1959 and Winnie's family is moving to rural Minnesota. Are there even phones there? How will she keep up with her group of best friends, the Starlings? Besides, something isn't right. Her parents are keeping secrets, and Winnie is under strict orders to "keep family matters private." In Minnesota, Winnie finds out that her father's new job requires her family to live on the grounds of a mental institution--"a prison for freaks," Winnie concludes. The Bridgewater State Hospital is near an Indian reservation and surrounded by small farms. It's only a mile from her new school, but that mile brings her into a different world. At school Winnie is ridiculed not only as the new kid but as the girl who lives at the local nuthouse. At first the only thing Winnie thinks about is how to get back to her friends and her "real" life in Chicago, but eventually she is swept up in a world full of people and events that cause her to question her former life and then to see everything in a new light--her parents, the Starlings, her new friends, and herself.
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Lindsay Lee Johnson grew up in a family of storytellers. She thinks of words as her first and most enduring playthings. Ms. Johnson has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, community education instructor, visiting author in schools, and free-lance writer of everything from business brochures to greeting cards and fortune cookies, but her heart has always belonged to fiction. She has written award-winning stories for adults and children and has published three books for children Hurricane Henrietta, A Week With Zeke & Zach, and Soul Moon Soup.
Ms. Johnson writes from her home in the east central Minnesota countryside, where she lives with her husband, four cats, and assorted other animals. She and her husband have twin daughters and four grandchildren.
Grade 5-8–Winnie is devastated when her family moves from Chicago to the grounds of a mental institution in small-town Minnesota where her physician father goes to work. In 1959, these facilities are alien and frightening places to most people, and Winnie is appalled at her circumstances. Rejected at school by the local kids, she misses her previous friends, the cliquey Starlings. Her mother is not handling the move any better than she and is no help. But Winnie perseveres as she volunteers to work the hospital snack cart, makes a friend, and adopts a pet goat. Along the way, she evolves into a more thoughtful and sensitive person. When drastic changes in the family dynamic cause Winnie to speak up and ask for the truth about the move, she displays her growing ability to distinguish solid virtues and true friendship. While historically accurate in its portrayal of daily life and the way our culture viewed mental disabilities at the time, the focus is on the protagonist's feelings. While at times Winnie can be an unreliable narrator, she eventually demands the same level of honesty from herself as she does from her parents. This story brings bias and prejudice to the forefront in a discussable and readable narrative.–Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO
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Book Description Front Street, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used. Bookseller Inventory # 39M-01-PT
Book Description Front Street, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1932425284