The Wrong Way Home

Written by Kate O’Shaughnessy

The Wrong Way Home is a suspenseful story about a girl and her mom who are on the run from the cult where they have lived for the past six years, but one of them is secretly plotting a way back.

Since she was six, Fern has lived on the Ranch with her mother, convinced by Dr. Ben’s teachings that the outside world is a threat to safe, clean living. Fern may be able to knit complex cable patterns, or coo at a laying hen so it won’t peck her when she retrieves its still-warm eggs, but she doesn’t know what a zip code is, how to send a letter, use a computer, or why anyone would read a book about make-believe stuff. This becomes painfully clear when Fern’s mom sneaks them away in the middle of the night and drives them to the California coast to start a new life. Fern cannot wrap her head around the idea that Dr. Ben is dangerous, so while she pretends to acclimate to her new surroundings, including traditional school and new friends, she secretly tries to contact the Ranch. What will happen if Dr. Ben comes to rescue her?

I have never read a middle grade book on this subject, and I give Kate O’Shaughnessy an A+ for originality. There are great learning moments as Fern teeters back and forth from wanting to return to all she has known, but liking her new life and relationships. It has a great message on learning to trust yourself and those that you love.

Reviewed by Kristen Hunt, Librarian, Whittier Elementary School
Review shared in May 2024
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 5-8

The Wrong Way Home
Written by Kate O’Shaughnessy
Alfred A. Knopf
325 pages
Release Date: April 2, 2024
ISBN: 9780593650738
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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