Set in the summer of 1939, this historical novel for readers aged 10-14 tells the story of a young girl who finds the strength to defy the social norms of her community when a dangerous man poses a threat to a friend. Twelve-year-old Angie Wallace and her friends embark on a quest to "love thy neighbor," which includes newcomer Jefferson Clement. But soon the girls begin to suspect that he's a dangerous man, even if the adults refuse to see it. Like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, the characters in this book must explore the nature of truth and justice as Angie struggles to stand up for what she knows is right.
It's the calm before the storm of World War II in 1939 in small-town Messina, California. Angie Wallace and her friends have set out on a mission to "love thy neighbor"--even if that means inviting weird Dodie Crumper to join in their summer plans. But as they move through their neighborly to-do list, the girls can't help but notice that there's something strange about the sudden return of Jefferson Clement. He might be well-dressed and respected, yet with each interaction they become more aware of his dark intentions, especially when it comes to young girls. The adults in town either don't notice or ignore the danger he poses, but when Angie is the only witness to a terrible accident, she must make a choice that calls into question everything she understands about truth and justice. With a setting that blossoms to life from the first page, When the Crickets Stopped Singing is the story of a transformative summer in a young girl's life, when the idylls of childhood collide with the perils of the world beyond.
About the Author
Marilyn Cram Donahue is the author of Straight Along a Crooked Road and its sequel The Valley in Between, as well as sixteen other books for children. She is also a regular school speaker and author-in-residence at writing retreats. She lives in Highland, California. Visit marilyncramdonahue.com
“(A)n atmospheric coming-of-age story with plenty of plot twists and turns.” – School Library Connection, starred review
“In lingering, evocative prose, this story is demonstratively reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, including a stifling courtroom inquiry of the town scapegoat and a girl's loss of innocence.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Donahue creates a memorable pair of antagonists…(t)he novel's climax and its aftermath further underscores a recurring theme of the dangers of false appearances. A leisurely pace, careful language, and a nostalgic tone…mak(e) it appropriate for younger readers or classroom discussion….(a)nd align with the novel's gentle handling of a serious topic. A thoughtful historical fiction and coming-of-age story.” – School Library Journal
“This well-plotted… treatment of an important topic is sure to spark discussions.” - Booklist
“(A)n interesting story. The historical aspect is well constructed…The exploration of how silence can perpetuate the actions of a known abuser and how a young teen can use her voice to end it conveys a powerful message.” -VOYA