book review – Maybe a Fox

What happens after you die? […]

Maybe you turn into wind.

Maybe you turn into stars.

Maybe you go to another world.

Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee’s Maybe a Fox is a sweet, heartrending tale about family, grief, and wishes.

It’s been a while since I’ve read something written for a children/pre-teen audience, but I couldn’t resist a story that involved foxes and magical realism. And I’m glad I did read it, although it probably didn’t seem that way when I finished it last night because I had tears streaming down my face.

The story is primarily about two sisters, Sylvie and Jules. When Sylvie falls into the river, never to be found, a fox cub is born. Jules struggles to come to terms with life without her sister, while the fox, Senna, realizes that she has some kind of spiritual connection to the grieving girl.

There is so much death and loss within the pages (I won’t get into the subplot, but it is equally heartbreaking), and yet it doesn’t come through too heavy. Jules fixates on the wishing rocks she and her sister used to throw into the river and the undiscovered Grotto from the stories they were told, and that childlike curiosity and hopefulness, alongside the weaving chapters of the growing up fox, adds enough mysticism and whimsy to temper the darkness.

There were no twists or revelations that I didn’t see coming right from the start, but the vulnerability and raw emotion from the characters still made it a heartbreaking read.

It’s real and beautiful and emotional and if you need a good cry, you should check it out.

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