|Print List Price:||$8.99|
Save $6.00 (67%)
Molly Pepper and the Night Train Kindle Edition
Kindle Feature Spotlight
|Length: 258 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Matchbook Price: $0.00
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
|Age Level: 8 - 12|
|Grade Level: 3 - 7|
Try Kindle Countdown Deals
Explore limited-time discounted eBooks. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I'll put most of the issues I had under a spoiler warning below, but for starters the "bad guys" in this story are FBI agents. And not ones that are corrupt, or dirty. FBI agents doing exactly what they are supposed to do and should do.
As a story for MG readers I think it sends many bad and wrong messages.
For those who would like to know, this is not Fantasy, it's not Magical Realism. While certain things are definitely not plausible, it's firmly Realistic Fiction.
As far as the issues I had - kids probably won't be bothered by them much or at all, so this is more a heads up to adults considering this for young readers they know. Scroll down to see under SPOILERS.
I think it'd be easiest if I first start off with a summary of the plot. Molly is a 12 year old girl who lives with her police officer father. Her mother has "left", she actually died but we're not told that until the very end. We get Molly's POV and she's dealing with her grief, so all we know through most of the book is her mother is gone and are told she "left". Molly also believes that all her grandparents are deceased, including her maternal grandfather her mother was led to believe died when she (the mother) was 10. Actually, we learn toward the end, this grandfather had been convicted of murder and sent to prison. This grandfather escaped after being in prison for 13 years. At the end, when he talks to Molly, he tells her he is innocent and was "railroaded". While the narrative is geared toward sympathy for the grandfather, and seems to want us to believe he is innocent (and perhaps he actually was), all we, and Molly knows, is that he says so.
Molly's grandfather has been in her town, keeping close to her in ways that don't reveal to her who he is. At some point prior to the reveal of this to us, Molly's father is also in on this, knows about it, and helps this grandfather with his plan. This plan is to both give Molly a special adventure and also reveal to her who he is. He also gives her the choice of helping him escape once again, or being caught and taken back to prison.
Whew, with me so far? OK, here are some of my issues:
"Molly wasn’t really sure why Noah always insisted on being so obedient all the time. The way she saw it, Noah needed to mess up occasionally. That way, people wouldn’t always expect perfection out of him. And, if anybody, Noah’s parents expected perfection."
Noah is Molly's friend, who goes along with her on this adventure. I was really unhappy with how being an obedient kid was presented as so negative. I just don't think this is a good message for kids.
I read quite a bit of MG fiction, mostly Fantasy and Sci Fi, with a smattering of Realistic Fiction. I'm not unaware of the common troupes used to make plots work - such as absent or unattending parents, kids being mildly disobedient or doing things that are not quite smart or safe. And I think I'm a reasonable degree of tolerant of it. But I did find here that it was both (IMO) over the line, and more bothersome due to the fact that this isn't a Fantasy story, so it was harder to dismiss as "make-believe".
Following clues (left by her grandfather, but she doesn't know that, nor does the reader), Molly sneaks out of her house at night to go off with her friend Noah, to an address they've been given. This story is set in the San Francisco area. This bugged me. It's not ok for 12 year olds to sneak out of their houses at night to go wandering around, because some mysterious note tells them to. Sure, it made for an interesting story. It got my interest. But still, as an adult I wondered about this message it's sending kids.
And in my defense I've seen such premises before, handled in ways that made them not so problematic. So, it can be done. The fact that we learn at the end her dad was keeping an eye on them doesn't really fix the issue. It helps yeah, but it's still bothersome IMO.
We're also told of "police", who turn out to be FBI, who are surveilling Molly, but we really don't know why until the end. Of course they are watching her because they believe her grandfather will contact her or led them to him, which happens. Since he's an escaped convict this is completely reasonable, understandable, and them doing their actual job. But these FBI agents are made the "villains" of this story.
I did not like the story making law enforcement, who are doing what they are actually supposed to do, as the "bad guys". What the heck?
Molly and Noah at one point meet up with a mysterious man who opens a door for them in an underground area, and they enter, following the instructions they've been given to get to the Night Train. At the end we find out this person was actually her grandfather in disguise, but shoot this was creepy. He could have been a pedophile or something.
We get a hint at that point that her father "tricked" her into deciding to go. We learn later that he actually kept a close eye on her, so that part is ok, but shoot, can't he just talk to her??? I understand he, and the grandfather, wanted to keep things mysterious and adventurous for Molly, but still, it just seems to me things would have been better all the way around for her dad just to have a talk with her about this stuff.
Her police officer father manipulates her into deciding to sneak out of the house at night and go off wandering around the city. Sure, he keeps an eye on her, but she doesn't know that. He's getting her to do something that would be wrong or dangerous if he didn't know about it and wasn't watching out for her, except she doesn't know he knows about it or that he's watching out for her. So, what's keeping her from thinking it's perfectly fine without his knowledge or his supervision? It's all so twisted.
Then at the end Molly's grandfather puts it into her hands to decide, to choose, to help him escape again (the FBI are right there nabbing him), or allow him to be caught. She just lost her mother a few months ago, she is TWELVE, and she just learned she has a grandfather who loves her. And he puts this burden on HER. This ticked me off.
What should have happened here is that he should have turned himself in, allowed himself to be taken in, decided he wanted to make things right the legal way, with lawyers, and just wanted to talk to her first. That could have pulled a bit of this train wreck out of the fire. But nope, he escapes again, and we're made to think this is a wonderful, good, happy ending. Pffft.
There's more I could say, but that's the gist of my issues. Disobedience equals "fun" and "adventures" and obedience is bad. FBI agents tracking escaped convicts are bad. (Sure, we're made to think he's innocent, but even so it's not ok to just escape and go on the run!) The police officer father knows about this wanted fugitive but says nothing. Sure, he's in a sticky spot, but still...Can't they get him a good attorney and deal with things legally? Sheesh -yes, I know, that'd be a boring story.
I loved this story. Molly is both a rebel and a girl in need with whom many kids can relate. The book takes place in just a short amount of time, allowing the author to delve into the setting and description of this quaint island community, the intertwined relationships and Molly's unresolved conflicts. Although it is a full-length middle grade novel, the compressed time-table made it feel like a captivating short story. It's a book I'd love to share with my nieces and nephews ages 8-12.
I loved the way reality borders on magic, making it clear that sometimes life is really a mixture of both. The clues are cleverly laid out and although at times seemingly easy to understand, have a deeper meaning in the large scope of things. The reader believes to have just figured something out, when the next scene reveals that there's even more to the plot than first thought.
The 'bad' guys dangle on the edge of the story through more than half of the book, adding a wonderful amount of tension and mystery. Short chapters are peppered in during the run of the story, allowing the reader to get just a peek at what these antagonists are thinking without giving their true purpose away. By doing this, the reader is kept at the edge of their seat unsure what might happen next.
I especially loved the way Molly's father is woven into all of this. Although Molly and Noah are out to discover the mystery on their own, Molly's father sneaks around in the background, secretly prodding his daughter to take the leap into the unknown and discover it for herself.
Summed up, this is an adventure kids will wish they had the chance to experience themselves. There's tension, humor and enough heart-warming moments to draw readers ages nine and up in, and not let them go until long after the very last page. This story gets a huge two thumbs up from me.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.