Leslie Connor is an author I have enjoyed with such memorable reads as ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK and THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE. Now comes a new story with two very different characters.
Eleven-year-old Aurora (pictured above) is an impulsive preteen who speaks her mind—loudly—and often at the worst time. Friendship never lasts long except the one she has with a boy named Frenchie who is autistic and never talks. They’ve been in the same class in a small town Maine school since third grade. With the beginning of sixth grade, though, they’ve been assigned to separate classes.
Frenchie will have a full time aide by his side, but it’s going to be a new adjustment for both kids. They can still share time outside of school as both love the natural world present in coastal Maine. Birds for Frenchie while Aurora loves rocks of all kinds. They are also captivated by the spotted piebald deer they are lucky to have seen. This deer plays an important role in the story line.
Everything changes when one morning after being dropped off at school by Aurora’s dad, Frenchie soon walks away from school grounds and no one can find him. Aurora feels responsible because she usually walks him to class each morning. No one in the town has seen him which leads to an organized search and rescue plan scouring the trails leading into the woods. But still, after searching for the rest of the day Frenchie is still missing. Where can he be? Frenchie will have to spend the night alone in the dark wherever he is.
The story unfolds through multiple viewpoints. Most of them are via Aurora whose first person narration is full of emotion as she struggles with the real life drama of a missing friend alone in the wilderness. The author’s expert way of bringing out each character is done in the present along with highlights from the past. Together they provide a full view of the special bond these two have.
This MG title that will have adults (like me) raving about the story. The intended audience, age 8-12, might find the pace a bit slow with too much introspection, but it would make a great focus as a classroom read and a discussion of differences in others.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: February 15, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 336
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT—ANYBODY HERE SEEN FRENCHIE? by Leslie Connor
- I’ve never been to Maine but the setting laid out for readers has me hoping I can some day soon visit this unique state.
- Neurodivergent characters get a deeper understanding as both Aurora and Frenchie provide insights into the way they act.
- A community coming together is a beautiful thing and what you experience here is truly memorable.
- Aurora treats Frenchie for who he is rather than seeing him as someone to avoid. A special bond for sure.
- In the end, this is about friendship and its importance to every child,
A FEW WORDS FROM AUTHOR, Leslie Connor
What do I do on a writing break? Well, I still love to create—everything from art collages to artisan pizzas and pots of soup. I also love to bike to town and meet friends. I like to believe that every plot problem can be solved over a good cup of Earl Grey tea… and maybe a piece of dark chocolate.
(For more about Leslie and her books visit the author’s website)
I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest insights. Comments are welcome below.