A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay is utterly enthralling. It defies genre, being neither dystopian, science fiction or realistic fiction, although I did keep trying to pin it down throughout my reading. The time period is undefined, as is the location – these factors ensure that this book will be appealing to a wide audience for many years. The aspect of the storyline that most fascinated me was the matriarchal society that prized the smallest girls. While this completely frightens me as a parent and woman, the book dealt with it in a very sensitive way, shedding light on the danger of under-eating and not being true to body size. I was struck by the focus on childbirth and maternal issues since these are rarely dealt with in middle grade books, but these were a very welcome addition. All around, this is a great story that will immediately hook a wide variety of readers. I am purchasing for both of my school libraries and will be book-talking it heavily!
Here is the official description of the book, which originally was published in Australia and is just now coming to the US:
In an isolated society, one girl makes a discovery that will change everything — and learns that a single stone, once set in motion, can bring down a mountain.
Jena — strong, respected, reliable — is the leader of the line, a job every girl in the village dreams of. Watched over by the Mothers as one of the chosen seven, Jena’s years spent denying herself food and wrapping her limbs have paid off. She is small enough to squeeze through the tunnels of the mountain and gather the harvest, risking her life with each mission. No work is more important. This has always been the way of things, even if it isn’t easy. But as her suspicions mount and Jena begins to question the life she’s always known, the cracks in her world become impossible to ignore. Thought-provoking and quietly complex, Meg McKinlay’s novel unfolds into a harshly beautiful tale of belief, survival, and resilience stronger than stone.
Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC of this title, all opinions are my own