Review: A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlayA Single Stone
Meg McKinlay
Candlewick Press
Published on March 14, 2017 (Orig. May 1, 2015)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About A Single Stone
Every girl dreams of being part of the line—the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. No work is more important.

Jena is the leader of the line—strong, respected, reliable. And—as all girls must be—she is small; years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first.

But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question the world she knows? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything?

My Review
The harsh circumstances of life and Jena’s utter devotion to her people make A Single Stone a captivating story from the first page. I liked the unusual story world and Jena’s journey struggling to make sense of her community as she discovers some dark secrets about the way the leadership operates. I loved her friendships with Luka and Min, and the snippets about the mysterious outsider girl.

I loved the way the metaphor of a single stone being moved or stirred could cause a whole mountain to collapse. It created this sort of knife’s-edge feel to the whole story that’s echoed in every uncovered secret and every moment where Jena faces a difficult choice. Will she be the girl who brings down the mountain or her community in ruin or will she free them? Great tension there.

The story ended a lot differently than I expected. At one point, Jena makes an important confrontation, but I felt like her accusation gets lost in the confusion as a lot of other things happen suddenly. Her choice at the end of the book is a lot more personal rather than community oriented (though it still affects the community), and I guess I hoped for more? Maybe how it affects her other relationships or just a revisiting of the closeness she had with some of the other characters.

On the whole, I really enjoyed reading A Single Stone, and especially loved Jena’s character. This is a great pick for readers looking for dystopian stories but not yet ready for the likes of The Hunger Games or Divergent.

A Single Stone on AmazonRecommended for Ages 9 to 12.

Cultural Elements
Characters appear to be white. The village is small and cut off from any other known cities or human populations. Women lead the village. Girls are the more highly valued children because of their size and ability to navigate small spaces.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
The village has some call and response types of rituals, but they don’t seem to be based on worship of any particular deity.

Violent Content
Female children wear tight wraps on their limbs and torsos which limit their growth in hopes that they’ll grow up to be small enough to climb through the tight crevices of the mountain. Jena learns that the mothers manipulate other elements of growth, sometimes with fatal consequences, in order to try to create a generation of smaller girls to support the village.

When one girl becomes trapped in the rock, the others pull her out, knowing this could cause her thin bones to break, possibly even cause her death.

A girl falls from the top of a rock and dies.

Jena recalls a memory of her own mother’s death following childbirth.

Drug Content
The Mothers use various drugs and medicines to cure illnesses, reduce pain, and at times alter their patients.

A Single Stone on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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