Superior Reads


When the weekly letters from Jessie Nelson’s mom stop arriving from Afghanistan, she’s worried that something terrible has happened to her. A long, anxious summer stretched before Jessie made only worse when her dad announces that they would be spending the summer with her grandfather in St. Peter, Minnesota. So begins Kristin F. Johnson’s middle grade adventure novel, FEARLESS.

Though she’s numb with worry about her mother’s welfare, she proudly wears the T-shirt her mother gave her before she was deployed, the one emblazoned with the word FEARLESS, a reminder to her that being fearless doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. Fearless will become Jessie’s mantra that summer. She will make new friends and she will become a hero in her own right.

Riding their bikes around St. Peter with her new friends, Oscar and Nicky, the three stumble upon an old barn. Inside there are dogs in small cages, whimpering and whining, and obviously neglected. The barn is the home to a puppy mill and though the kids can’t release them all, Jessie takes one that is in particularly rough shape home with her. She names the dog Dusty and she keeps him under her bed, sneaking food to him each day and letting him out when her father and grandfather are away running errands or visiting friends.

As the story progresses, Jessie learns what true courage is, and she displays a fierce commitment to helping the dogs left behind in the puppy mill. Kids who love dogs and animal stories will love FEARLESS and be inspired by Jessie’s dedication to step outside of her own troubles to help someone else. Johnson has written an adventure story with depth and heart – not too sad, but just enough tension to keep your eight- to ten-year-old (boy or girl) reading.

This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. Listen to my author interviews on WTIP Radio 90.7 Grand Marais or stream them from the web at the fourth Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm and the following Saturday morning at 6:00 am.

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