Wren Warren and Derek Pewter-Flores ae both sixteen-year-old members of the four founding families in Hollow’s End. Wren’s family grows wheat, and Derek’s grows melons. The the pair hopes to build on their families’ 150-year-legacy, marry, and have children someday, but Wren has overheard her parents arguing about money, so she takes measures to help increase the farm’s production. Soon after, a blight appears, one with devastating effects on the soil, crops, animals, and people—one with the power to fracture not only a family but a future. Believing herself responsible, Wren takes matters into her own hands, and what she discovers rocks her core.

When Ann Fraistat conceived of an idea for her debut young adult novel, What We Harvest, she hoped to create a story with monsters and magic. In addition, she explores human relationships and how we reap what we sow. Wren’s research takes her to her dad’s lab experiments, a mystical box, and something about argent vive. A type of mercury poisoning, argent vive produces a molten ooze and infects anyone and anything that comes into contact with it. Symptoms include impaired vision, loss of motor control, delirium, psychotic reactions, and homicidal tendencies. If she hopes to save herself, she has to clean up this mess. But at what cost?

Fraistat further explores the ways in which we poison our relationships with half-truths and hurt that fester beneath the surface until the damage is incurable. Sometimes, unaware of the possible consequences or risks, we also perform acts that we hope will benefit our families but instead contribute to instability. Perhaps the best advice comes from Derek, who reminds Wren: “Just because you made a mistake one time doesn’t mean you have to keep making it. We don’t have to be like your parents or mine” (134).

  • Posted by Donna

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