Piper Hill is an only child. While she does love her little family with their quiet routines, she has always wondered what it would be like to have siblings. One day, her dream comes true, through a rather unfortunate turn of events. When her family expands to include her three cousins and their rowdy dog, Piper begins to learn that family bonds are very complex things. Throughout her first year of being in a blended family, Piper has a lot of growing up to do. But through it all, she learns some very valuable lessons. The Hopper Hill Family is a glimpse into the life of a young girl learning to see, and a family learning to love one another.
The Hopper Hill Family is a journey – one that I very much enjoyed. Erika S. Castiglione does an excellent job of characterization in this novel, making the story very emotionally engaging. However, I will say that as a reader, I felt that the whole book needed to be longer. After all, this is a beautiful story about a young girl discovering, through many life-changing events, what the true meaning of family is. Just as in real life, these discoveries take time. I feel that perhaps Erika should have given her readers- and her characters- more time to grow throughout the story.
One place where Erika really nails it is dialogue. Each character has a distinct voice, and this really comes out when they talk to each other. This makes the book very authentic, which is especially valuable considering the nature of the story. There is something for everyone in this book: the feeling of sadness when your crush loves someone else, the feeling of missing friends who have moved away, the feeling of helplessness to change the past, and the feeling of hopelessness in losing someone you love. Through engaging dialogue, Erika captures the essence of her character’s feelings and complex emotions.
While this book is written for young readers, I would advise parents to exercise some caution in recommending it to children. Some of the book’s topics are very difficult, and even seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Piper, they may not be appropriate for all audiences. (For example, Piper’s uncle struggles with alcoholism, her cousin Seth smokes cigarettes, and many of the characters experience very real grief at the death of loved ones). Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to any reader who is looking for a good story with a good lesson. This book gives voice to things that many of us have felt, but have not quite put to words. And that, reader, is the true value of literature. Not only to make us feel, but to make us understand.
Published on 27 August, 2015. Last updated on