Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee. Atheneum, 2016.
I picked up this book because I needed a bit of lighter reading after finishing The Circle by Dave Eggers. I was also hankering for some middle grade. My pick was Maybe a Fox, which I picked up because it seemed like a good winter read, and I was so glad I did.
Maybe a Fox is set in small-town Vermont, where the snowy forest plays a big role in people’s lives, and therefore, the story. This in itself makes it the perfect book to read during the wintertime. The setting is such a core aspect of this book, it’s almost a character itself. Though the book takes place in modern times, it is seeped in the American folklore of the north, giving it an old-world, mythological atmosphere.
I think the less I say about this book, the better. Reading it without knowing too much about it beforehand will enhance its magic. Let’s just say that it involves the death of a character and a reincarnation of that character into – you guessed it – a fox.
That description may not sound appealing to some. It may sound cheesy, especially considering this is a middle grade novel. But the execution of this plot is absolutely beautiful. The writing style is simple, in accordance with the intended audience, yet it has a soft, mystical, poetic quality that had me utterly captivated. Despite the story being about death and grieving, I would not call it sad. That’s probably what I liked best about the book, aside from the mythological aspect. It was hopeful and beautiful.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because there was one specific plot detail that could have been extended and rounded out by the end, but it wasn’t. It was important, too, so I wonder why the authors did not close out this particular part of the story. Highlight for spoiler: I wish the catamount had been a bigger part of the ending, and I wish it had been made clear that the catamount was Zeke’s spirit, as was implied. Elk and Sam didn’t really get a chance to get that closure with the catamount.
I would highly recommend this book to just about anybody. It’s a quick, lovely, wintry read for those needing to catch up on last-minute Goodreads goals or jump-start your 2017. It’s the perfect book to read if you want some peaceful contemplation paired with a serving of silently falling snow.