Summary and book reviews of The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell

The Second Life of Abigail Walker

by Frances O'Roark Dowell

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell X
The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Ellis Smith
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Is it possible to start afresh when you're thoroughly weighted down?

Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies - and becomes officially unpopular. Embracing her new status, Abby heads to an abandoned lot across the street and crosses an unfamiliar stream that leads her to a boy who's as different as they come.

Anders is homeschooled, and while he's worried that Abby’s former friends are out to get her, he’s even more worried about his dad, a war veteran home from Afghanistan who is dangerously disillusioned with life. But if his dad can finish his poem about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, if he can effectively imagine what it is to experience freshness and innocence, maybe he will be okay. As Abby dives into the unexpected role as research assistant, she just as unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, there is plenty there for herself, as well.

Chapter Two

abby was trying to feel brave, but feeling brave was not something she was good at. In fact, she was chicken. A coward. A natural-born conflict avoider. And she was doomed. Whatever happened next, it would not be good, and her day, which had been completely rotten so far, would only get worse.

There was no way around it, though. She knew Kristen would hear about what happened in language arts. Myla was in Abby's class; so was Casey. They were part of Kristen and Georgia's group, and they'd tell faster than milk spilling from a knocked-over glass.

She wondered if Kristen would use it against her right away ("Hey, Tubby—oh, I'm just teasing! Take a joke!") or if she would bring it out later for maximum hurtage. Ever since Claudia had moved and Abby had taken refuge on the fringes of Kristen's group, she had learned how Kristen worked. Sometimes Abby was in with Kristen, sometimes she was out.

Mostly Abby was out, although she kept ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The result is a multi-layered examination of friendship, self-esteem, and the pathways to a happy, hopeful life. As Wendell Berry states: practice resurrection. Walk an extra mile. Walk in a different direction. Walk too much, too far, for too long. Because somewhere inside those journeys is the exact place where you might finally find your true self.   (Reviewed by Tamara Ellis Smith).

Full Review (531 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Middle school mean girls are not uncommon, in fiction or in life, but seldom has an author so successfully defeated them without leaving her protagonist or her reader feeling a little bit mean herself. Ages 9-12.

Publisher's Weekly
Starred Review. Dowell (Ten Miles Past Normal) creates a sympathetic and honest heroine with a flair for drama, humor, and creativity, and she resists a tidy ending in a novel that feels both timeless and entirely of-the-moment.

Booklist
Starred Review. Dowell masterfully handles the hot button topic of bullying and will have readers contemplating the pettiness and self-loathing that supports it.,,,A timely and heartening book for today’s middle schoolers.

Reader Reviews

book lover

Good Read
It is an ideal book for 6th and 5th graders cause it has good descriptions and figures of speech.

Diamond_girl101

My opinion of the book.
I loved this book. But it was kinda sad because people judged her on how much she weighed. But the ending was happy.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and editorial, as well as a cultural critic and a farmer. Frances O'Roark Dowell's The Second Life of Abigail Walker begins with an epitaph taken from one of his poems. Berry lives in north central Kentucky on a 125-acre farm called Lane's Landing. The intersection of humanity and landscape, the conviction that human beings must learn to live in harmony with the organic rhythms of the land, is at the center of his life's work. He specifically believes the answers lie in local connections, in people understanding and relating to the land that is directly under their feet.

Wendell Berry Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front (written in 1973) from which Frances O'Roark Dowell takes her ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Frances O'Roark Dowell

If you liked The Second Life of Abigail Walker, try these:

  • Tall Story jacket

    Tall Story

    by Candy Gourlay

    Published 2012

    About this book

    In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

  • The Magician's Elephant jacket

    The Magician's Elephant

    by Kate DiCamillo

    Published 2011

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Winner of BookBrowse's 2009 Children's Book Award. When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.