My reviewrating: 3 of 5 stars
At first I was concerned that this would be one of those Heavy Message books, but it's not. There are two stories here: one, the story of trying to save an old growth redwood stand, the other the story of a boy finding family. Neither are overdone, but both are a little trite.
Julian's father died when he was seven, and his mother had gone to China to photograph people and temples. Since there is only her mother (a traveling journalist) on her side, he is taken to live with his father's brother, Sibley. The problem is the Sibley and his wife Daphne are clearly unhappy to have him, in typical Cinderfella-style fashion (minus the chores). One day, Julian is sick and falls asleep in his uncle's office, where he "accidentally" reads some e-mail...
One e-mail is from a young girl, Robin, who lives next to an old growth stand that has been bought by the uncle's company and is due to be chopped down. After a series of e-mail exchanges, Julian essentially runs away to Robin's family's farm, which serves as an exchange program for children who want to learn more about sustainable living, farming, etc.. This part of the book is one of the more message-laden, as Robin continually spouts off about people like Julia Butterfly Hill and how she's going to live a green life.
Ultimately, Julian and Robin, and some friends, manage to save the redwoods, and Julian meets his father's mother (a classically formidable woman who clearly has little use for Sibley, her son). All's well... and all's pretty predictable.
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