Greenglass House is a smugglers’ inn, but it is also Milo Pine’s home. He loves his house and his parents and he would be happy if nothing ever changed. But one snowy evening, two strangers arrive unexpectedly, setting into motion a chain of events which will force Milo to look at himself and his family.
I’d been hearing a fair amount of buzz about Greenglass House when it came out, so I was excited to see that it was nominated for the Cybils. I’ve read one of Milford’s earlier books and liked it. Plus the cover is very appealing! (I have a weakness when it comes to great covers.)
I’m happy to say that I enjoyed my reading experience immensely. Of course, it probably helped that I read this one while curled up in a little eyrie of a room in a bed & breakfast, which about the most perfect place I can imagine for this particular story. But I think I would have liked it whenever and wherever I read it.
This is an elegant book, with a puzzle-like quality to it which is very satisfying to the intellect. It’s rich with layers, imagery, and allusions. But at the heart of it is a very human, very real story which is never overshadowed by the elements that support it.
Adoption is something I’m familiar with, but only from the outside, so I can’t speak particularly to that aspect of Milo’s story. But I think Milford is both trying to accurately portray what Milo might feel, and at the same time show that longing to understand the world that’s a hallmark of middle grade books. I said of The Whispering Skull that it was “poised at the tipping point between childhood and young adulthood, when you want the next thing but fear losing what you already have.” That’s certainly here too. It’s a thoughtful, introspective look at leaving childhood behind.
It’s also a pretty awesome mystery (I guessed parts but not the whole solution!), and features a wonderful setting, which I definitely added to my mental list of Fictional Places to Visit. And Milford’s writing is really strong here, a quiet but very carefully crafted narration. All in all, this is a lovely book, and one that more than lives up to its cover.
Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, HMH Books; middle grade