The Girl and the Grove
Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.

The Girl and the Grove Details

TitleThe Girl and the Grove
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 8th, 2018
PublisherFlux
ISBN-139781635830187
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Fantasy

The Girl and the Grove Review

  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    3 stars ⭐⭐⭐https://youryareader.blogspot.com/201...I received this book from Netgalley in return for a honest review...:)I wanted to first off thank the publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :) On to the review....So basically I came into this book with pretty high expectations. The description for the book intrigued me so I was so ready to dive in. I will analyze the characters and then tell you my problems that I had with this book and the t 3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️https://youryareader.blogspot.com/201...I received this book from Netgalley in return for a honest review...:)I wanted to first off thank the publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :) On to the review....So basically I came into this book with pretty high expectations. The description for the book intrigued me so I was so ready to dive in. I will analyze the characters and then tell you my problems that I had with this book and the things I enjoyed about it!Leila: In this story, Leila was our main character. She was adopted and never knew anything about her parents. The thing I really liked about Leila was how much she cared and loved the environment. This is a nice change in a main character and it just makes me soo super duper happy. :)Sarika: Sarika was Leilas best friend in the story who was sarcastic, witty, and absolutely hilarious throughout! I really enjoyed reading her little clapbacks throughout. Landon: Ok, so Landon (I think) was the love interest of Leila. He was a smart guy who was considerate of Leila's feelings. He was just not a very interesting character beyond that. Shawn: I'm not really sure if I should feel bad for this guy. He was a absolute jerk at the beginning. And I still couldn't really see past that as the novel went on. Whenever he came into the novel I found myself rolling my eyes. He chose to be with Jessica and act the way he did, that was his decision to do that. He seemed to just always be making excuses which really bothered me about his character. Jessica: Everyone please welcome the most cliche character to ever exist! Jessica has blond hair... and yep you guessed it. Mean as a snake. But worse... She wasn't a villain really, but I mean she was like a bug I couldn't swat at. Jon: Jon is Leilas adoptive father. He was very protective of Leila but also gave her the space she needed and supported her in pretty much everything she wanted to do. Lisabeth: Poor Lisabeth... (MINORR SPOILER COMING UPPPPP))))))))) Leila called Jon her dad before (SPOILERSSS ENDEDDDDDDD)))) Lisabeth, and seemed to pretty much not communicate with her at all. We didn't really get to learn much about her, but the times we did I just felt bad for her. Thoughts on Book: I want to start out with the things I liked about this novel first because good news before bad right? I really loved how the author allowed the characters to care so much for the mother nature they would literally do anything for it. The main characters were interesting and most of the time, fun to read about. I think the author did a good job tying that all together at the end of the novel for the most part. He began with her loving the environment, and ended with her loving it even more. Now for the cons, which is always hard to point out in books... The first thing I want to address is the character development. I didn't really see any of that in any of the characters. I saw a sprinkle of it here and there, but not one character really changed that much. Next, this book was had some fantasy in it like the description said, but it really was not much. The book was mostly about her saving the place where her family had been. I was actually super disappointed when there wasn't much more then that. Also the story got patchy. It was like we skipped a whole timeline in some parts of the story. Well anyways thats my review y'all! Have a happy Thanksgiving and I will see you all again soon. :)
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  • jv poore
    January 1, 1970
    Once in a while, a book means so much to me that I need my metaphorical sandwich-board and bell to adequately express my adoration. It is entirely in that spirit that I introduce The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith. Immediately irresistible, the anomalous story of amateur arborist, Leila, branches out and grows faster than her rescued sapling, Major Willow. Since Leila has basically bounced around Philadelphia, popping in and out of the group home, she and her best bud bonded by creating their Once in a while, a book means so much to me that I need my metaphorical sandwich-board and bell to adequately express my adoration. It is entirely in that spirit that I introduce The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith. Immediately irresistible, the anomalous story of amateur arborist, Leila, branches out and grows faster than her rescued sapling, Major Willow. Since Leila has basically bounced around Philadelphia, popping in and out of the group home, she and her best bud bonded by creating their own constant. After all, Leila’s connection with nature is certainly undeniable, somewhat surreal. It’s an interest she shares with Jon that may make this adopted-as-an-adolescent adjustment easier. He is great, in an awkwardly adorable, always affable way. And Lisbeth, well, it would take a cold heart and hard head to ignore the quiet strength, patience and abundance of love within her. If it doesn’t work out, Leila will have only herself to blame. Being the perfect daughter will have to take a backseat though, something bigger is about to go down.A gorgeous grove with a trio of trees that have, thus far, stood the test of time, is about to be destroyed. Leila’s new nature-loving friends will fight for the trees, the history and the elusive, endangered field mouse, but there is something more valuable—vital that must be saved, while being kept secret.Social issues surrounding prejudices and racism are addressed alongside examples of ignorant questions that can be uncomfortable and awkward for an adoptee. A casual, conversational tone, dotted with diabolical dialogue and spot-on samples of sharp-tongued teens ensures an easy read. Laid out in a linear, fluid fashion; lean without being bare, the quest moves quickly. A splash of suspense, mixed with maybe a bit of magic and myth, makes a magnificent tale.I dig The Girl and the Grove as a Not-So-Young-Adult; but teen-aged-me would have carried this book like a teddy bear and copied quotes all over my kicks.This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with huge thanks to North Star Editions/Flux Publicity Department for the Advance Review Copy.
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  • Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
    January 1, 1970
    3 StarsThis was cute and starts a lot of great discussions about adoption and identity. There's a really cool earthy vibe that makes the magic element even more fun. But the pacing was off and it was rather predictable? RTC
  • The Bookavid
    January 1, 1970
    THE GIRL AND THE GROVE was so nice. From the nuanced way adoption is handled to the wonderfully refreshing seasonal affective disorder rep to the fantastic voice and creative story, this is exactly the kind of magic-infused contemporary I wish we'd see more. This is the first time I'm seeing somebody use a medical daylight lamp/light box in fiction, too, (hey, I've got one!) so this meant especially a lot to me. Environmental activism plays a huge role in protagonist Leila's life and the story i THE GIRL AND THE GROVE was so nice. From the nuanced way adoption is handled to the wonderfully refreshing seasonal affective disorder rep to the fantastic voice and creative story, this is exactly the kind of magic-infused contemporary I wish we'd see more. This is the first time I'm seeing somebody use a medical daylight lamp/light box in fiction, too, (hey, I've got one!) so this meant especially a lot to me. Environmental activism plays a huge role in protagonist Leila's life and the story is pretty much centered around her various efforts to better the environment. It's a unique hobby that I've never seen in YA before and it's super fun to read about. I always enjoy reading about characters with passions that I don't know much about and Smith makes it very easy to get invested and to understand Leila's perspective. Reading this sort of made me want to go plant a tree right now immediately, haha.My favorite thing about THE GIRL AND THE GROVE is how casually and effortlessly relatable it is, at least I thought so (though I'm 22 and not a teenager, so~). Smith writes in a spot-on teenager voice and I loved loved loved that this has mixed formats -- texts, tweets, blog post -- yes, more of that, please. THE GIRL AND THE GROVE is a very diverse story, from head to toe. Leila is adopted and I really found the way this is executed so, so, so nice to read. Her relationship to her parents is absolutely heartwarmingly beautiful and I didn't realize how much I missed seeing relationships like that in fiction until I read this. Her dad, literally a walking dad joke, is probably my favorite character in this entire story. Leila's adoption isn't grazed over but her complex feelings towards it are executed with grace and with such nuance that only an #ownvoices author can. It's a quiet, lovely story that you certainly have to be in the right mood for -- it's exactly what I like in a contemporary. Lovely, sweet characters, a passionate protagonist, and even a little bit of magic. Glowing five stars. More like this, please.
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  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    Well, this was disappointing.2.25 stars.The Girl and the Grove brings a new, interesting perspective to the contemporary fantasy genre, focusing on themes of environmentalism and family instead of the romance or the magical creatures, although those two elements are still present and relevant.I loved the premise of this book; my problem was the execution.I didn't like the writing at all. It was often awkward, almost amateurish at times, and with this premise - magical groves in the park! - there Well, this was disappointing.2.25 stars.The Girl and the Grove brings a new, interesting perspective to the contemporary fantasy genre, focusing on themes of environmentalism and family instead of the romance or the magical creatures, although those two elements are still present and relevant.I loved the premise of this book; my problem was the execution.I didn't like the writing at all. It was often awkward, almost amateurish at times, and with this premise - magical groves in the park! - there was so much potential, but there was almost no atmosphere. There are so many scenes set in the wood and you basically don't describe the wood? Why?The dialogues weren't terrible, but sometimes it was clear that this book was written by someone who has never been a teenage girl.I liked Leila. We do not often see characters who really care about the environment and fight to preserve it. I also really liked how her arc focused on both the romance and the family - she has been adopted recently, and she is still coming to terms with it. Her seasonal affective disorder doesn't help.I didn't like the other characters as much. While Leila's family was great and it was nice to see a strong female friendship between Leila and Sarika, there was also the very stereotypical, really evil blonde mean girl who didn't get any development. All we know about her is that her dad is rich, she wears make up and she is evil. She's so evil she's worse than a caricature.I thought we had left this kind of character in 2012 YA books.I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I just need to say that this book moved me to my very core. As someone who is adopted, reading this was a breath of fresh air. I've had these similar thoughts about abandonment, about being broken, and about the mysterious existence of our birth parents. I want to talk about how refreshing it was and heartwarming, to see a positive portrayal of friendship between the MC and her be (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I just need to say that this book moved me to my very core. As someone who is adopted, reading this was a breath of fresh air. I've had these similar thoughts about abandonment, about being broken, and about the mysterious existence of our birth parents. I want to talk about how refreshing it was and heartwarming, to see a positive portrayal of friendship between the MC and her best friend. It took everything I was expecting, proved some of it right, but improved upon in in spectacular ways. One of the other things I loved was the activism in this book. I wish my younger self had read this and thought - yes it is so cool to be passionate about something that people might not (probably not) understand, and to go with it. The Girl and the Grove mixes genres, is integrated with pop culture references, and is purely delightful and spectacular.Characters: 5, World Building: 4, Plot: 5, Writing: 5full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    charming, and a delightful surprise. i loved the themes inthis book, from family, to friendship, to love in all its forms,including our mother earth. smith defly weaves in adoptionand activism as well. a magical read!
  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    A little bit HOOT, a little bit magic, a little bit FAR FROM THE TREE, all together lovely
  • Rayna
    January 1, 1970
    4/16/2018: GUESS WHO JUST GOT APPROVED FOR AN E-ARC?! *sunglasses emoji*
  • McKelle George
    January 1, 1970
    Read an early draft of this one and it was lovely and heartfelt and the unique formatting was a completely fascinating blend of modernism set against themes rooted to earth and nature instead of technology. Can't wait for it to hit the shelves.
  • Shanna Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    THE GIRL AND THE GROVE is a special book for me. This is because Leila, the main character, suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes, it has SAD rep! This is so rare, and I’m so grateful to see that part of myself in a book. Needless to say, this book was high on my to read list when I found out, and it did not disappoint.Aside from the SAD rep, this book has plenty more to offer. It explores a very important theme: family. Leila has recently been adopted, and although I don’t have experien THE GIRL AND THE GROVE is a special book for me. This is because Leila, the main character, suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes, it has SAD rep! This is so rare, and I’m so grateful to see that part of myself in a book. Needless to say, this book was high on my to read list when I found out, and it did not disappoint.Aside from the SAD rep, this book has plenty more to offer. It explores a very important theme: family. Leila has recently been adopted, and although I don’t have experience with this, to me this felt like it was handled really well. There was a constant hesitance, even an inner fight, from Leila’s side, though she badly wanted to trust her new family, and it was good to see her on this journey and grow. I absolutely loved Jon. He’s funny, and awkward, and just all around adorable. Lisbeth, on the other hand, was a very different matter—I really enjoyed seeing the different characters here, as Lisbeth has a lot of strength, albeit quiet. Another thing I really adore about this book is seeing a main character with a passion as strong as Leila’s, and more specifically the direction of it: Leila is super passionate about the environment. Without giving anything away, we find out more as the book progresses, but aside from that it’s a very current subject, and I’m glad to see it represented in a YA book. Leila’s best friend, Sarika, was a very funny addition to the wonderful cast of well-developed characters, with her funny remarks and her unwavering support. In all, if you’re looking for a book with SAD rep, a main character with passion, and a funny best friend, this book is for you.
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  • LaRonda (Flying Paperbacks)
    January 1, 1970
    You can see my full review here!The first 10-20% of the book was cool. I liked the main character and loved her adoptive parents. Her friendship with Sarika was also probably the best part of the book. After that initial beginning of the story, I had no idea what was happening. It wasn't as if too much was happening, I just... couldn't understand where the story was going. Adding Leila's Seasonal Affective Disorder was a huge catalyst for me wanting to read this considering I've never read a boo You can see my full review here!The first 10-20% of the book was cool. I liked the main character and loved her adoptive parents. Her friendship with Sarika was also probably the best part of the book. After that initial beginning of the story, I had no idea what was happening. It wasn't as if too much was happening, I just... couldn't understand where the story was going. Adding Leila's Seasonal Affective Disorder was a huge catalyst for me wanting to read this considering I've never read a book featuring it. But again, after about 20%, I was not having fun. And though I liked Leila, some of her decisions involving certain characters did not bode well with me. And the overly cliched mean girl! This has it be the most over the top "I'm bitchy just to be bitchy" antagonist? can we call her that? I have ever read about. (view spoiler)[And the borderline love triangle? It's forced down the reader throat that Leila and Shawn had "tension" and then that squashed when Landon comes in. BUT SHAWN IS STILL THERE FOR NO REASON. (hide spoiler)] Overall, Leila and Sarika's friendship was the best... the rest not so much.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    This has some of the most amazing adoption representation I've ever read. Despite my own adoption background being very different from Leila's, there were so many things I could relate to. The family dynamics between Leila and her new parents, Jon and Liz, were so sweet and heartwarming that I almost cried several times. I was also so happy to see Seasonal Affective Disorder representation, and to see the use of a light box normalized. The plot itself fell a little flat for me, and I felt like t This has some of the most amazing adoption representation I've ever read. Despite my own adoption background being very different from Leila's, there were so many things I could relate to. The family dynamics between Leila and her new parents, Jon and Liz, were so sweet and heartwarming that I almost cried several times. I was also so happy to see Seasonal Affective Disorder representation, and to see the use of a light box normalized. The plot itself fell a little flat for me, and I felt like the world building could have been expanded. The romance was not my favorite either as I felt the love interest wasn't held accountable for his previous actions. Overall I did enjoy this story and it's one that I'll be buying for my own collection.
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    An entertaining read, lovely characters to follow and a story with potential. Full review coming soon :)
  • Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    I received an arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I really enjoyed this book! Leila had a tough life in the foster system, which is definitely one of th reasons why I picked this book. I don't see many books about kids dealing with the foster system. I also loved how she was active in the environmentalist group, which definitely sends a positive message to readers. The supernatural element blended in well with the plot, but I can't say more or else you will lose the element of su I received an arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I really enjoyed this book! Leila had a tough life in the foster system, which is definitely one of th reasons why I picked this book. I don't see many books about kids dealing with the foster system. I also loved how she was active in the environmentalist group, which definitely sends a positive message to readers. The supernatural element blended in well with the plot, but I can't say more or else you will lose the element of surprise 😉This was definitely an enjoyable read
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  • Ceillie
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to come, but this was beautiful.
  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come as part of Mental Illness in YA Month.
  • Hope Walker
    January 1, 1970
    To be noted: I was given a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This book was free, and my review is not biased towards that fact in any way. These are my opinions only, (as everyone is entitled to them) and should only be taken as an idea for whether or not you would like to read the book yourself. In the end, no matter what review I give, props to the author for writing what they love, and actually publishing a book.The Girl and the Grove Warning: Spoilers Withi To be noted: I was given a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This book was free, and my review is not biased towards that fact in any way. These are my opinions only, (as everyone is entitled to them) and should only be taken as an idea for whether or not you would like to read the book yourself. In the end, no matter what review I give, props to the author for writing what they love, and actually publishing a book.The Girl and the Grove Warning: Spoilers Within For starters, I'm beginning to think that I'm either too kind understanding as a reviewer or everyone else is really rough on their writers...because I for one loved this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having said that, it did take me the first couple chapters to understand and get into the book, but once I did I really had a hard time putting it down for daily life/adult stuff... I recognize this style of writing and feel like the author and I have some things in common. This book has a lot of depth. I feel for Leila. Again, I could be biased on this front because my fiance and I are wanting to eventually adopt and honestly, getting a look into how a child might feel about calling their adoptive parents "mom and dad" something so simple for us, that comes so easy... those children may be afraid to give that. Afraid they're going to get tossed back, no matter how much it is apparent that the adults care for and love them. Afraid of losing what they have if they struggle with mental disorders or if they do one too many things wrong. My goodness I just didn't even really think about those things. It totally gave me a new perspective on how to treat these kids. It amazes me in the first place that people could (and often do) treat them like items, like they can be returned whenever if it just "didn't work for them" or they "weren't a good fit." However, it happens all the time, and I think that kids probably just come to expect it to be that way. This thought essentially pulled on my heartstrings. All children deserve so much more...However I feel myself rambling so I'll get on with it. The plot was good, I cried several times, like when Leila's hair started falling out, or when they thought Milford wouldn't make it. I've read stories where you actually don't know whether these people will make it. The ending is so abrupt and disappointing I think I'm conditioned to be afraid of sad endings and really not knowing for sure how the book is going to end gets me emotional. But that's what makes a good book right? You laugh and cry right along with it all, and that's why I gave this book 5 stars. I try to reserve my 5 star ratings for books that really get me going, and this was one of them. It had elements of what discrimination is like from all fronts, rich and poor, black and white, etc. Feeling forced into something to save other members of your family from losing their jobs like with Shawn and Jessica. Shawn was super easy to dislike at first, by the way. I think he had good intentions but totally went about the whole thing wrong.Sarika and Leila's relationship was sweet and fun. Just how best friends should be. I also appreciated that the author added a "thanks" from her biological mother for Sarika helping and protecting Leila throughout all those hard years. I was a little disappointed they didn't reach farther into the aspect of her father, and what happened to him. I think that could have been a good side story. The end of the book seemed to move faster than the rest though, so it never seemed to come to fruition what ever happened besides his possible drowning.. In conclusion. I think I would like to see more from this author and maybe even a little more about Leila and her story. It has a lot of potential to have a side story or something, even though the book is pretty much over.
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  • Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I'm sick, so this review is going to be a bit shorter than normal.   I don't want anyone to think it's because of the book because I really liked it.Leila was recently adopted after spending her life in foster care and a group home.  She is struggling with having a mom and dad and doesn't use those words.  But her new parents are pretty awesome and I adored her dad.  He made me laugh a lot.  Leila also deals with seasonal depression and anxiety.For years, Leila had been hearing voices, but was n I'm sick, so this review is going to be a bit shorter than normal.   I don't want anyone to think it's because of the book because I really liked it.Leila was recently adopted after spending her life in foster care and a group home.  She is struggling with having a mom and dad and doesn't use those words.  But her new parents are pretty awesome and I adored her dad.  He made me laugh a lot.  Leila also deals with seasonal depression and anxiety.For years, Leila had been hearing voices, but was never able to understand what they were saying.  Only her best friend, Sarika, new about it.   Strange things start happening.  Leila is very much into nature and saving the environment.  So much so that she has an online board and joins a local club.  Trees and plants start to grow faster when she touches them.  One day she finally hears the voice clearly and it tells her where to go.  There is a major surprise waiting for Leila in a grove of trees that are set to be torn down.I really enjoyed how this book showed the dangers of how we treat the planet.  That awareness is needed and I don't see it as a focus of books.  Also, the adoption and Leila's feelings were so well done.  Without getting into too much, I will say that I enjoyed the fantasy/magic with the story, too.I gave this one 4 stars.  The writing was well done and I enjoyed the unique story.  Thank you to netgalley for giving me the chance to read this early.
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  • Naseem
    January 1, 1970
    Note: NetGalley provided an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.Friends, this book is an utter delight that made me laugh and cry throughout.I understand the critiques in the other reviews, that there wasn't a lot of character development/growth, that the villain was two dimensional. None of that bothered me. This book gives me fuzzy feelings of pure joy.I'm not adopted, but I'm planning on adopting, so reading a tale of an adopted kids and her feelings around that—the what-ifs of her biol Note: NetGalley provided an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.Friends, this book is an utter delight that made me laugh and cry throughout.I understand the critiques in the other reviews, that there wasn't a lot of character development/growth, that the villain was two dimensional. None of that bothered me. This book gives me fuzzy feelings of pure joy.I'm not adopted, but I'm planning on adopting, so reading a tale of an adopted kids and her feelings around that—the what-ifs of her biological parents, learning to adjust to the security of another family, the emotional (and physical) violence of the foster system—were so deeply important for me, a non-adoptee, to read. I can't imagine how much that would mean to someone who is in the system, someone who experiences those feelings on a daily basis. If nothing else, this book is worth reading for that.But I appreciate so much about the representation in this book, and what I especially liked was that this wasn't an "issues" book. This wasn't a book about a Black teen being adopted by a Black woman and her white husband; this wasn't a book about a teen with SAD coping with it. This was an adventure story—more magical realism than straight fantasy—about a girl adjusting to her family in the backdrop of saving something she loves. (I also am really glad that there was a flavoring of romance instead of the book being focused on romance—I'm not one for YA contemporaries in general, but YA contemporary romances make me shrug.) We need more stories where marginalized people are doing things that privileged characters get to do all the time without the focus being on their identities. This book is an example of that.The characters are an utter delight. Leila is a badass, level-headed protagonist, and Sarika is the best friend everyone wants, full of charm and snark and wit. I love their little bits of characterization coming across via text or message boards or tweets. I love how frank Leila is about the conversations she does and doesn't want to have. This isn't some sort of inspiration porn story; it's feel-good while being authentic to itself. I devoured this book in one sitting. It's an easy, fast read. I'm not kidding when I said that I both laughed and cried throughout. I cannot recommend this enough!!
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Leila has a lot going on in her life. She’s grown up moving around between foster homes. She lives with seasonal affective disorder. She’s recently been adopted, She has a passion for saving the environment. And she hears voices in her head, that continue to grow louder, calling out for her help.I ended up enjoying this book a lot. It has many different elements that it touches upon. The main character has grown up in the foster sy I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Leila has a lot going on in her life. She’s grown up moving around between foster homes. She lives with seasonal affective disorder. She’s recently been adopted, She has a passion for saving the environment. And she hears voices in her head, that continue to grow louder, calling out for her help.I ended up enjoying this book a lot. It has many different elements that it touches upon. The main character has grown up in the foster system and does not know who her parents are. In the book, she has recently been adopted and we see her struggle with that. She has a type of depression that is actually fairly common. There are many environmental issues that are brought up throughout the story. And then there’s a dash of supernatural and romance to top it all off. All of the elements work together well in the story. The flow is natural and doesn’t feel forced at all.And the main character is a POC, which is always awesome.This was a well-written book that maintained a good pace without feeling rushed. There were elements between each chapter of social media interaction, which usually feels forced and fake, but it was well done in this book. They helped to move the plot along and even contributed to a little twist towards the end of the story.All in all, this is a great book that I would recommend to anyone. It seems to have a little something for everyone in it.I give it 5/5 stars.
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  • Leeza Robertson
    January 1, 1970
    Let me start by saying, this is a very special book for both obvious and not so obvious reasons. First the obvious, this book deals adoption or more to the point, the bridge between being adopted and feeling like you belong to a family. We meet Leila, our main character when she has found herself in a new adopted family. Her anxiety is palatable, you can seriously taste the acrid raw emotions of her past and present experiences as they ooze out of her. The story takes into consideration all the Let me start by saying, this is a very special book for both obvious and not so obvious reasons. First the obvious, this book deals adoption or more to the point, the bridge between being adopted and feeling like you belong to a family. We meet Leila, our main character when she has found herself in a new adopted family. Her anxiety is palatable, you can seriously taste the acrid raw emotions of her past and present experiences as they ooze out of her. The story takes into consideration all the normal adoptive themes; family, identity, place and belonging. This is the obvious part of the story and an important one. The not so obvious part, the bit that for me is the real WOW factor is the way Leila's energy comes through the pages. How we feel her tight, constrained, contracted life force slowly but surely unwind throughout the cause of the book. This is not always easy to do but Eric does an amazing job. If you pay close attention you can physically feel when Leila lets go, allows the control to slip from her fingers and slips into the space of the unknown. This book will end up becoming a must-read for adoptees. But I also really encourage those who just struggle with place and purpose to pick this book up and find their own point of understanding in the magic of the Grove.
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  • Sunshyne
    January 1, 1970
    This book really spoke to me. Leila has been moved around from home to home through the foster system. The has a passion for saving the environment and she loves trees. Her best friend Sarika is the only one who knows she hears voices calling to her in the wind. It scares her but she has a system to keep them at bay. I immensely enjoyed this book. The books main character is a young teen that has been shuffled around all her life. She has finally been adopted but shes scared to accept that they This book really spoke to me. Leila has been moved around from home to home through the foster system. The has a passion for saving the environment and she loves trees. Her best friend Sarika is the only one who knows she hears voices calling to her in the wind. It scares her but she has a system to keep them at bay. I immensely enjoyed this book. The books main character is a young teen that has been shuffled around all her life. She has finally been adopted but shes scared to accept that they want her forever. So Leila is fighting to keep her self-neutral. Leila's character has been through some abuse and suffers from some depression. This book touches on so many different elements in just the right way. I love all the environmental things that are defined throughout the book. Then there is, of course, the supernatural that took me by total surprise. I wish that there was more. Maybe we will get a sequel. I think the book was written beautifully and I would recommend it to everyone.
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  • Hanna Fogel
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. Man did this book make me miss Philly. (And the author, who I’m also lucky enough to know 🙂)
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.This book starts off pretty strong, but kind of goes downhill a bit and plateaus from there. I felt that it read like an early draft (which, seeing as it's an ARC, it kind of is) and that there are a lot of things I feel could benefit from changing before it's published. The story, however, I absolutely LOVED, for many reasons: 1) that Leila was a foster kid and is dealing with the emotions of being adopted, 2) that she's somehow telepathically connected to trees, or tree-spirits, 3) that she's super into the environment, 4) this takes place in Philadelphia, which provides no specific additive to the story other than I thought it nice to imagine, and 5) the main plot of the story involves saving a park and an old mansion from destruction. The carry-out of the story, however, felt a little forced, as if the author hadn’t quite figured out where he was going or which parts of the story were going to be important. There were quite a few references to modern day obsessions, like Tumblr, which I personally am not a fan of because they immediately date a book. Also, as someone who has since grown out of Tumblr, it immediately made me feel more disconnected with the characters. Most of the dialogue was okay, but there were definitely some times that I was cringing pretty bad. It felt like the author really had no idea how anyone would actually act in certain situations (especially the teenagers) so he just made it up and left it there (kind of like an awkward adult trying to fit in with young people). The plot points were good to move the story along, but felt badly connected. The underlying plot of Leila calling her adopted parents Mom and Dad felt unnecessary. I understand that for a kid like her, it would be a big deal, but had nothing to do with the main plot and was more of a distraction. I detected a little bit of 'special snowflake' syndrome in some of the characters - before we realise how awful of a person Jessica is, there is a pretty obvious passage where it's clear we aren't supposed to like her simply because she's carrying a makeup clutch and Leila isn't about that. I did like the idea of Leila and Sarika joining the environmental club, but that brings up my next point. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out the point of the existence of Shawn, ESPECIALLY because he was introduced as a love interest. His story goes nowhere. It makes it incredibly confusing when we meet Landon, the real love interest, because you can't figure out who is supposed to be who. Not only that, but Shawn is an AWFUL character. He is the one who suffers from being a special snowflake most of all. That scene where he threatens to not give credit to the kids who are just in the club to get credit? Where the hell does that authority come from? He's immensely inconsiderate to Leila and does not suit her at all, so the concept of them having “tension” (when believe me, they did not) is baffling. Landon, while definitely not perfect either, makes WAY more sense as Leila's love interest, so I cannot understand why Shawn cannot be ditched and Landon introduced earlier in the story. I definitely called Landon being Toothless (I have the Kindle notes to prove it), but it felt awkward a bit just because it didn't feel like it was him when you considered how he and Leila interacted IRL and online. The characters of Jon and Lisabeth were pretty poorly created, and given way too much influence on Leila considering how poorly they were written. I was so upset with Jon when he tried to convince Leila to not protest against the amphitheatre just because it would be awkward for him at board meetings. For crying out loud, isn't he an environmentalist? Isn't he supposed to care about endangered species?! The owl was cute and clearly brought Leila and Landon together, but there's this whole idea that he would hate being called Milly because his name is Milford and “all owls must have old man names”. No, he wouldn't. He is an owl. The reveal that Jessica was the source of the decay was sooooo obvious I can't believe I didn't see it coming, but I think that's because I simply expected more. She's such a poor antagonist anyways, and the hallway scene where she admits to poisoning the grove is so cheesy it feels like she's a super villain who is like "I'll get you next time children!"I haven't mentioned the whole dryad thing yet because I really wanted to get all that out of the way first. This part of the plotline was the bit that I was most disappointed in. First of all, the voices in Leila's head just don't seem right. I know that in the summary they are described as the grove calling to her, so it really should be no surprise, but they were written as if they were a mental health thing, which made me believe that they were going to tackle that topic, which I am on board for because it still isn't talked about enough. But nope, it's the trees. The reveal that the tree is Leila's mother is approached so poorly. It comes as a surprise not because she's a tree, but because there was really no build-up that Leila's birth parents were something she was hugely concerned about. It would have been better if there was no parental connection at all, or maybe just that Leila had an affinity for nature and that's why she could hear the voices. Not only that but the fact that Leila started fading away when the grove did was also kind of awkward and didn't serve too much of a point other than to illustrate that she's connected to it. The part about the grove being responsible for all life in Philadelphia wasn't really explained that well either, it was explained more like a fact that we were simply supposed to accept, with no concern that it might be weird at all. I just cannot believe that there is this super cool story line about dryads and tree spirits that has so much potential, but the majority of the second half of the book focuses on them finding a freaking mouse in order to save the grove. The dryad plot is super cool, but simply was not given the attention it deserved.Despite all of these points I have laid out, I still think this book deserves three stars, and probably closer to three and a half. Even though I was disappointed in the way the plot went, I still think it was pretty good. It was definitely unique (in terms of what I have read, anyway) in many many ways and I think that deserves some brownie points. That being said, the interactions between the characters sometimes did not reflect how people interact in real life at all, and at times felt like the author was trying too hard to emulate teenagers and their thoughts and mannerisms. It also felt like the book introduced way too many subplots that didn't have that much of an overall effect on the main plot. That being said, I really did like the addition of the chatboards that Leila and her friends interacted on and felt that was a unique addition. A lot of the things I have pointed out can be fixed pretty simply, and I wish this book was longer because I think that would really benefit the story and round it out more, and would especially give the characters some room to breathe and develop. Still, after ALL THAT (and I really am sorry for picking it apart like I did), I did like this book, and I would still recommend it to others because it does some pretty cool things. Still. The world needs more dryads.I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted at Musings of an Incurable Bookworm.Sixteen-year-old Leila has recently been adopted. But one thing she hasn't told her new parents about: the whispering on the breeze that she occasionally hears, the nagging feeling that someone is trying to talk to her. The only person she's told is her old friend from the group home, Sarika. While attending summer school, Leila and Sarika join an environmental club. Leila has always felt a special affinity with plants and trees. While out on Originally posted at Musings of an Incurable Bookworm.Sixteen-year-old Leila has recently been adopted. But one thing she hasn't told her new parents about: the whispering on the breeze that she occasionally hears, the nagging feeling that someone is trying to talk to her. The only person she's told is her old friend from the group home, Sarika. While attending summer school, Leila and Sarika join an environmental club. Leila has always felt a special affinity with plants and trees. While out on what becomes a disastrous date in a local park, the voices Leila hears become louder and more clear. She discovers a grove, and the key to the mysteries of her biological parents. But she may have discovered it all too late, as the grove is about to be demolished and developed, and the poison that is leaching into the grove seems to be affecting all of the local wildlife, and Leila herself. Leila must work with her new parents, her friend Sarika, and a young park ranger (and love interest?) named Landon to stop the demolition of the grove before she loses everything.So I first encountered Eric Smith via BookRiot, and especially since I've been listening to their new podcast Hey YA! (Which I really enjoy and highly recommend.) I also started following him on Twitter at about the time I decided to pay more attention to the publishing world and especially follow some writers/editors/agents, not only because I'm a bibliophile, but also so I could be forewarned about books that were getting critical acclaim but didn't stand up to scrutiny from bookland people I trusted. So I was excited to be given the opportunity to read an early ARC from NetGalley of this new book. Can we just admire the cover art for a second, because it's flipping gorgeous.I felt a lot of feelings while reading this book, because Smith packs a lot of feelings into it: Leila's struggle between wanting to be loyal in a way to her biological parents, and wanting to fall all the way in and belong with her new parents. Her growing feelings for a boy who seems to understand her, and especially to be more sensitive to her past and her birthmark. Jon and Liz's love for Leila and their desire to be good parents and enough for her. The pain that Leila's bio-mom feels at not being able to care for her and having to send her away when she was so young. When Leila gets very ill towards the end, the heartwrenching scene where she collapses into Jon's arms as she calls him "Dad" for the first time? Yeah, there were some good, fat teardrops rolling down my face.I think this is one of the most nuanced and realistic portrayals of fostering and adoption that I've seen, and it makes a lot of sense, as Smith talks seems to be pretty open about his own experiences being adopted. (He even edited a collection of adoption-themed stories in a book called Welcome Home, which I haven't read yet but about which I've heard really good things.) The fact that Leila has a visible birthmark on her face created an external reason for her to not feel accepted, that paralleled well with her internal reasons for not feeling accepted. It also came back into play when they discover how she is connected to the grove, as the birthmark becomes something of a harbinger of impending ill for Leila. Leila is eminently relatable, not necessarily because of anything specific that happens to her (and there are definitely some weird, otherworldly things), but because she often feels so uncomfortable and out of place, and sometimes angry. Who hasn't felt that way?Her relationship with Sarika was also well developed. The sarcastic way they communicate with each other is the way I am with every girlfriend I've ever had, and it made me feel like they would've been girls I hung out with when I was a teenager. Leila's relationship with Landon felt natural and adorable, and the conflict didn't seem contrived and didn't last excessively long, both of which seem to be a hard balance to find for many YA books.I did feel like there could have been a bit more explanation about the connection between the grove and the impact of its destruction on the park's and Philadelphia's ecosystem, as that seemed a bit cobbled together and unclear. I think part of it may have to do with the mythological nature of the grove, but it wasn't obvious what Smith was going for there. Some of the prose was a bit clunky, but honestly, the visceral feelings that are portrayed and the magic of the story counteracted any frustration at specific phrases that seemed unnatural.The mean girls were a little one-dimensional, but that's pretty typical of mean girls. And though I think that it would be easy to discount Shawn (Leila's one-time love interest) as just a dick of a character, I actually think his arc in this book made him one of the more human. He's well-meaning, but doesn't get the execution quite right. He's insensitive, but he genuinely seems apologetic and interested in learning from his mistakes. I know a lot of humans in real life like that.In general, this book has a lot of feels, a mostly happy ending, some elements of otherworldliness, and a relatable and awesome protagonist.The book won't be released until May, but you can find out more information and preorder it here.
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  • Carly
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I was super excited to read this book after hearing about it months ago from the author on social media, and it didn't disappoint! I don't read much YA, and I'm 22, so I knew going into this book that I wasn't really the intended audience, so I'm not gonna fault it for things I couldn't really relate to, because, well, I'm not a teenager. That being said, I still did relate to the characters a lot and found them all v I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I was super excited to read this book after hearing about it months ago from the author on social media, and it didn't disappoint! I don't read much YA, and I'm 22, so I knew going into this book that I wasn't really the intended audience, so I'm not gonna fault it for things I couldn't really relate to, because, well, I'm not a teenager. That being said, I still did relate to the characters a lot and found them all very interesting, compelling, and complex. It was really refreshing to read a book with so many jokes that I actually understood. I laughed out loud at this book so many times, it was great. But it also did a great job of balancing the funny pop culture references and the severity of the conflict. It got some tears out of me, too.I also love fantasy stuff involving nature, but I've read pretty much nothing that features it, so the magic grove stuff was really wonderful and fun for me. A lot of the fantasy elements here were really inspired, and I applaud Eric Smith for his imagination! Another thing I really liked was the way the relationships were handled. I love that Smith was able to show romantic relationships that failed because characters were insensitive and incompatible, instead of just trying to awkwardly force two characters together based on some really hard to believe chemistry. I feel like I don't see that very much in books. It was really refreshing to just have characters be flawed and not have everything just fall into place for them. And the themes of family and adoption--I'm not adopted, but I have experience with feelings of isolation from parental figures, so a lot of this book rang true for me, especially the bits regarding mothers and motherhood. I've never been able to find books that actually addressed those things before, and to hear characters put words to pains that I'd felt my entire life but never really seen validated anywhere was just amazing, and I'm really going to cherish this book for those moments. My only qualms with this book were that I felt the prose was repetitive and a little flat on occasion, and that some of the conversations felt a little too perfectly awkward, like I was watching a teen comedy or something. But for the most part, this book was really heartfelt and engaging. Also I'm a huge bird nerd so the parts that had to do with Millford made my heart sing. I feel like Landon and I would be buds.
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  • Teri
    January 1, 1970
    This charming tale is an interesting blend of contemporary and fantasy, with a main character I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book.  Leila is a mature young woman with strong convictions who struggles with questions about her past, while also learning to trust her new family and find a sense of belonging.  And everyone should have a best friend like Sarika - that person who always supports you and has your back no matter what - who is also a snarky, talented coffee barista with a loya This charming tale is an interesting blend of contemporary and fantasy, with a main character I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book.  Leila is a mature young woman with strong convictions who struggles with questions about her past, while also learning to trust her new family and find a sense of belonging.  And everyone should have a best friend like Sarika - that person who always supports you and has your back no matter what - who is also a snarky, talented coffee barista with a loyal Twitter following.  Leila's dad, Jon, is the perfect concoction of worried, overprotective father, with an endearing, dorky sense of humor.I loved the emphasis on environmental awareness and the interactions between the group on the message board.  Raising awareness in any way can only have a positive effect.  Although the romantic relationships felt somewhat rushed, hovering near the 'insta-love' airspace, I appreciated the way Leila realized early on that some relationships are just incompatible, but that doesn't mean the friendship has to end.  It caught me off guard when Shawn's character seemed to change abruptly from one scene to the next, and I was also hoping for a little more information about Leila's biological father.  The Girl and the Grove is an entrancing story with strong themes of family, friendship, and trust.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.  
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, just wow. I just finished this book. I read it pretty quickly because I just couldn't put it down. I would highly recommend to any other adults who love a feel good story and young adult targets. I picture this being a great middle grade to young adult genre novel. It has power. Although it ended perfectly and with closure, I also felt like it would be possible to write a sequel (or turn into a series even?) if the author really wanted to. Eric Smith captures the innocence and bravery and s Wow, just wow. I just finished this book. I read it pretty quickly because I just couldn't put it down. I would highly recommend to any other adults who love a feel good story and young adult targets. I picture this being a great middle grade to young adult genre novel. It has power. Although it ended perfectly and with closure, I also felt like it would be possible to write a sequel (or turn into a series even?) if the author really wanted to. Eric Smith captures the innocence and bravery and stubbornness of teens to a level that is rare to actually put into words. I look forward to adding him to my must read author pile. The only negative I have about this read is that I wish there were more details about what happened after... but like I said, there is room to imagine yourself; and to even extend the story later on. Overall, the story was captivating, heartwarming, and adventurous. 5/5 stars.
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  • Hassaan
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, so I have no idea which level of it this book lives on. So I'll tell you everything i thought about this book (though that's maybe what I'm supposed to do?".Likes:I loved the general idea of the book. It raises environmental awareness, in a very weird yet fun way, and there's also a lot of diversity and girl and girl friendships. which i appreciated. Also, as an animal lover, i loved how much emphasis was put into how our actions reflect in our environment and how we should all care a litt Okay, so I have no idea which level of it this book lives on. So I'll tell you everything i thought about this book (though that's maybe what I'm supposed to do?".Likes:I loved the general idea of the book. It raises environmental awareness, in a very weird yet fun way, and there's also a lot of diversity and girl and girl friendships. which i appreciated. Also, as an animal lover, i loved how much emphasis was put into how our actions reflect in our environment and how we should all care a little more. Especially when we found out that (view spoiler)[ Leila's mom is a dryad who, along with her sisters, is keeping the greenery of the Earth alive. That was surprising. (hide spoiler)] However, that's where my likes end.Dislikes:I'm seriously annoyed by how much insta-love there was. Seriously, Leila thinks that a guy who treats her nicely definitely seriously must be in love with her, and is basically fantasizing about her marriage to Shawn on their first (presumed) date. And since dearest Shawn didn't know about being sensitive to poor Leila's troubles (even though she goes on and on about how she's used to people asking) and even tries to show an interest, Shawn is obviously a tactless prick. And then shows up the handsome park ranger Landon, who Leila 'falls in love' with so fast it was like Shawn was something of two years ago, instead of literally 2 seconds. And what is wrong with her,expecting to know everything of how difficult her life is and insulting anyone who even dares to get to know her.Sarika, the best friend, was someone i liked. Really, she was so supportive and sarcastic, but she was also a bitch, or at least to me. I mean, when she finds out that hr enemy is funding the coffee shop she works at, she goes on a screaming rampage on bow she could have spitted or contaminated the enemy's coffee. Like, how are you even working here with that attitude. Also, there's a really quiet and shy girl who's 'best friend' insults Leila, so she comes to apologize. Sarika tells her to 'fuck off' an Leila thinks she might be nice since she obviously tried to help her. Not. Self-Obsessed. At. All. Excuse me while I eat a brick wall. Finally, Shawn dearest and Sir Landon. Oh my god. Shawn goes from "handsome-yet-humble-prince" to "whiny-spoiled-brat" so fast i had to reread just to be sure i wasn't crazy. I mean, during a field trip, he basically abandons his group since they wouldn't obey his wishes, and guilt trips them all afterward. Also, he claims to love Leila, yet is dating someone else. I'm sorry, but cheating is something I'd rather bash in the head with a sledgehammer. And Landon basically owns an owl illegally, instead of handing it over to the vet.So basically, this book is a huge no from me. However, if cheating bastards and unrealistic loves, along with bullying and bitchy people is your thing, go right ahead. You have been warned.
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