I recommend this book for: high school, advanced middle school readers
Wow. I started reading this one this morning at breakfast, and I found myself unable to put it down until I was finished (ahh, I love neglecting housework!) - and that doesn't happen often with historical fiction, so I give this one top marks.
Willa and her large family live in a West Virginia coal mining town during the Great Depression. Times are difficult, particularly when the company closes the mine and Willa's father and older brother have to go out of town to find work, leaving Willa to take care of the other children and her mother, who has just given birth. There is one brighter spot for Willa - the mission library run by newcomer Miss Grace. As Willa studies and devours every book she can get her hands on, life becomes more tolerable and new doors start opening for her - but some of the ones open to her are closed to people she cares about, and she has to choose how and when she will fight for them.
This was a beautiful story of family, first love, and survival during one of America's most difficult periods - and not just surviving, but blooming.