- Grades: 6–8
For Martha, Trout, and Eel, running away starts them on a journey that will lead them to discover who they truly and ultimately are.
Oak Grove was a dry town, and the people who lived there liked it that way. A flood years before had convinced them water was dangerous. They had a floodwall, and limited watering lawns and taking showers. No one wanted to let water get too powerful again. Maybe that was why they noticed the McGill boys, Trevor and Eli, and their strange habits. They didn’t like pizza or candy, and lived mostly on fish and drank only salted water. They dreamed of the ocean, and loved the sound of running water. But the most obvious difference was the thin webbing they both had between their fingers and toes, which made bowling or wearing a baseball glove impossible. Nevertheless, by the time the boys were 13 and 11, folks in Oak Grove had grown used to their ways, nicknamed them Trout and Eel, and most had adopted a live-and-let-live attitude towards them.
Martha Glimmer, who was also 13, was their best friend. She hated Oak Grove, hated its dryness, its silly laws and expectations about how everyone should live, and she hated Hildy Swoon, who was trying to marry her father, heartbroken after her mother died only a year before. He didn’t even seem like the person he’d been before, and certainly didn’t notice that Hildy was taking over his home, and making Martha and her friends too uncomfortable to stay there.
So Martha, Trout, and Eel spent days and evenings that summer on the roof of the garage, throwing stones at tin cans and dreaming of all the places they’d like to be that weren’t Oak Grove. Martha wanted to dance like her mother had, leaping and twirling on stage in places like New York and Paris, and the boys wanted to visit the ocean, hear the sound of the waves, see the blues and greens of the water, and feel the heat of the beach sand under their bare feet. Until one night, Eel said, “There’s no way to stop us if we decide to go. That’s the only way we’ll ever get to see the ocean.”
When words are spoken, when they are heard and understood, there’s no way to unsay them. And that evening, in a town where everything was always the same and nothing ever changed, three friends decided to reach for their dreams and find their destiny. But they never expected how their destinies would find them instead.
This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart