Saving Wonder by Mary Knight is set in Appalachia, in the beautiful mountains that are soon going to be destroyed as part of a company's mountaintop removal method for obtaining coal.
Curley has always lived in the mountains and loves them. His Papaw has always taken care of him after he lost his father and mother and brother. Each week Papaw gives Curley a new word to learn, knowing that words and education will be his grandson's ticket out of the poor community he lives in.
Each chapter focuses on a different letter of the alphabet and therefore the word of the week that Curley gets from his grandfather. The word is incorporated into the story and into Curley's dialogue, expertly fitting in with the boy's quest to help keep his home safe from a big company that has moved in and wants to destroy the mountain he calls home.
This was a fantastic debut novel, entirely enjoyable from start to finish. Mary Knight's story is one I will be encouraging students to check out and teachers to read aloud to their classes. I can't wait to see what else Knight writes next.