Better to Wish (Family Tree Series #1)

Better to Wish (Family Tree Series #1)

4.3 7
by Ann M. Martin, Annalie Gernert, Lorna Raver

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Four generations. Four girls. One family.
An amazing new four-book series from Ann M. Martin.

In 1930, Abby Nichols is eight, and can't imagine what her future holds. The best things today would be having a dime for the fair, keeping her Pops from being angry, and saving up eighty-seven cents to surprise her little sister with a tea set for

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Four generations. Four girls. One family.
An amazing new four-book series from Ann M. Martin.

In 1930, Abby Nichols is eight, and can't imagine what her future holds. The best things today would be having a dime for the fair, keeping her Pops from being angry, and saving up eighty-seven cents to surprise her little sister with a tea set for Christmas.

But Abby's world is changing fast. Soon there will be new siblings to take care of, a new house to move into, and new friends to meet. But there will also be good-byes to say and hard choices to make. As Abby grows older, how will she decide what sort of life will fit her best?

In this incredible new series, bestselling author Ann M. Martin brings the past and the present together one girlhood at a time and shows readers the way a family grows.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
This first book of Martin’s new Family Tree series tells of the childhood of Abby, who lives with her parents and little sister in a small Maine town in the 1930s. Each chapter moves the story ahead a year or two, as Abby grows from a young girl excited about a carnival to a young woman who rejects her father’s insistence that she marry a wealthy neighbor’s son and moves to New York City to pursue a career. In the intervening years, Abby faces many sorrows, including her disabled little brother being sent to an institution and the deaths of her best friend and her mother. Narrator Annalie Gernert’s youthful voice makes her a good match for young Abby, and she differentiates the other characters well, from high-pitched, bubbly little sister Rose to toddler Adele and Abby’s stern, no-nonsense father. Lorna Raver effectively narrates the book’s prologue in which elderly Abby looks back at her life. Ages 8-12. A Scholastic hardcover. (May)
The New York Times Book Review - J. Courtney Sullivan
Martin excels at capturing the hopes and hardships of adolescent girls.
From the Publisher

Martin (Ten Rules for Living with My Sister) paints an authentic picture of white middle-class life during the 1930s in this first installment of the Family Tree series, tracing four generations of American girls. Growing up in Maine, eight-year-old Abby Nichols is the oldest daughter of an ambitious carpenter eager to realize the American Dream. But his prejudices are strong, too: he won’t let Abby associate with her Irish Catholic neighbor, Orrin, among others. As Abby’s father gains success, she enjoys more privileges, including a big new house in the city, but the family’s newfound prosperity doesn’t ease her outrage over her father’s mistreatment of the less fortunate, including Abby’s mentally impaired baby brother. Besides addressing the subject of bigotry, Martin underscores the powerlessness of wives and children at the time, revealing the positive and negative sides of tight family bonds. Abby grows into a resilient young woman (the novel spans more than 10 years), willing to speaks her mind and assert her independence. Martin incorporates universal themes into this period piece, and her poignant writing is sure to satisfy fans. - Publishers Weekly starred review
Children's Literature - Susan Borges
Best-selling author of the "Babysitter's Club" series has written a wonderfully rich and engaging historical fiction story for middle school readers. This story, which begins in the small coastal town of Lewiston, Maine, in 1930, is simple yet complex, captivating yet edgy, and compassionate yet harsh. Readers first meet Abby Nichols when she is eight years old and they experience her life's story as a daughter, sister, friend, and strong young woman who is finding her way in a time of depression, war, bigotry, and real life conflicts as well as pleasures. Readers will carry the story of Abby Nichols in their hearts long after reading it, because Abby deals head-on with a mom who struggles with serious depression, a dad who is racist and unattached from his family, a young sister whom she cherishes and must help care for, and several wonderful friends from whom she draws strength and is able to find comfort. This is one of those rare books that will truly be an excellent read for people of many ages. The story is extremely engaging and informative because it is so specific to the time period in which the Nichols family is living. Abby and her entire family struggle with issues that expose their human sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and challenges such as the impact of social classes, financial burden, bigotry, discrimination, and insensitivity to the handicapped. Readers of all ages will be drawn to the Nichols family because this story is told with a great deal of compassion and many of the issues which this family faces in 1930 and 1940 are issues which continue to persist in society today to varying degrees. Readers of this book will eagerly await the publication of the second book in this wonderful "Family Tree" series about friendships and family, and the life and death of four generations of girls as they mature into adulthood. Reviewer: Susan Borges
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
A prologue dated in 2022 sets the scene as Abby Nichols reflects on her life from her perspective of having lived 100 years. She explains that this memoir is a kaleidoscope that she is using to piece together pieces of her life and that different pictures appear every time she slips back into memory. In the first episode, Abby is eight years old living in Lewisport, Maine, and anticipating seeing the two-headed snake that would be appearing at the traveling fair that evening. Each chapter begins with a date taking Abby through significant events in her life from 1932 to 1940 when she was eighteen years old and ending with an epilogue from 1945. Abby is a character of strength and perseverance. She manages to (mostly) obey her domineering father while maintaining friendships that he disapproves of with such people as Catholics and recent emigrates from Ireland. Her father is a successful carpenter and the family is financially secure despite the depression. They move to a big house with servants, but Abby prefers their small cottage by the ocean in Lewisport. Abby’s mother has lost children through childbirth and through her husband’s ignorance of dealing with a child with a disability. She is constantly depressed and eventually withdraws into a world of her own. Abby takes care of her younger sisters, but manages to earn honors for her scholastic achievements and juggle several beaus who come around frequently. This is the first in a series of books intended to show strong women through four generations. The next one will be about Abby’s daughter, then her granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. Part of the “Family Tree” series. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–7—In a small town in 1930s Maine, Abby Nichols is happy in her small bungalow by the sea. Life is stable, but not without challenges; her father has a volatile temper and is biased against people who are different and her mother experiences bouts with sadness and sees ghosts from the past. However, Abby finds solace and pleasure in her longtime friendships with Orrin and Sarah. Despite the changing times and the onset of the Great Depression, the family furniture business begins to boom and her father proudly moves them to a big house in a bigger town, complete with hired help. Regretfully saying goodbye to the house and friends she's so fond of is only the beginning of a life of love and loss, triumph and struggle for Abby. This first in a series is sure to be a hit with children, especially fans of historical fiction. The descriptive writing transports them right back to this fascinating period in time when families grappled with economic challenges, civil-rights injustices, and everyday concerns. Martin writes with respect for her readers, piquing their interest in history and tackling real-life issues head-on, but with grace. The series will continue with three more books following the lives of Abby's daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

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Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Family Tree Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Better to Wish (Family Tree Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
HollyBerry44 More than 1 year ago
I will have to admit that this is my first middle grade book that I have read in a while, and it will not be my last, it reminded me what I love about middle grade so much. The writing is very simple, but there is always really good lessons for kids in them, and some lessons that I think (some) adults need to be reminded of! What I really liked about this book was looking back at what life was like starting in the 30's, no computers, cell phones, etc that make life feel so rushed now a days. The mothers made the daughter their dresses, unless they were wealthy enough to go to the store and buy a dress. The games the kids would make up and play outside (something I think kids do not do enough of these days at all!), how going to a fair with a dime would last you for a few hours, going to the drug store with your friend for an ice cream scoop. I am sure that there were draw backs, but life just seemed a little simpler back then, less stressful. I really enjoyed reading about Abby and her family, and even though it was a very different time period, the same kinds of situations happen now, for example, once Abby's father starts getting more work, he feels the need to "prove" to society that he is making it, and that they are now part of the wealthy crowd by buying the kids flashy gifts, and moving in to a big house, and hiring a maid. Abby picks up on this, and wishes that they could have stayed in their own home and that her dad would pay attention to her more, and know what she wanted for her birthday. There is a lot of family drama in this book, and it was great to see Abby grow through the book, and come to be her own person. Also I cannot wait to read more about this family in the future books, it seems like it is going to be a great series. The events that happen in this book are things that happen all the time now, so I think kids will be able to relate to this book for sure. I give this a 4/5, and am really looking forward to more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! You really won't regret buying this book! A must read!
Anonymous 17 days ago
I just got done reading this book and i love it what is the pther book called so i can get it and read it to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much!! I think everyone should read this book, but there is three twist in the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have read in a long long time.i can not wait till the next book comes out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ann M Martin did it again Great book cant wait for the nexonet