Alida's Song

Book review by
Megan McDonald, Common Sense Media
Alida's Song Book Poster Image
Teen breaks through veneer of hurt and shyness.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Opening chapter contains fleeting contemplation of suicide due to surrounding squalor, including drunken parents.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drunken parents.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that clear writing and strong, wholesome characters are the trademarks of this pastoral novel.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

A boy's fourteenth summer changes when he is invited to spend time with his grandmother, who is a cook on a working farm. The nervous thrill begins when he is ordered to drive the old pickup truck himself twenty-five miles north to the farm. His initiation comes with a trip to the outhouse, in which he is attacked and knocked out by watchdog geese.

The unnamed boy soon becomes part of the daily rhythm of the farm--milking cows, pulling mustard, eating like a horse, listening to stories, even learning to dance to the fiddle and bones of Gunnar and Olaf, the farm's owners. Just watching cows brings pleasure. \"See how they come?\" Olaf said. \"It's so old--cows have been coming to barns since before ... before everything.\"

Is it any good?

This sauntering, cadenced tale matches the steady, unhurried pace of a farm in summer. In contrast to Gary Paulsen's high-powered action-adventure novels, this is a survival story of a different sort. Defeat turns to direction for an introspective 14-year-old boy when he glimpses a kinder side of life beyond the neglectful, alcoholic stupor of his parents in their grubby, rundown apartment, a sorry excuse for a home.

At the farm, the boy newly finds himself in the maternal embrace of his compassionate grandmother, where he is able to break through the veneer of hurt and shyness. A final memorable scene, in which he dances with his grandmother to an old song, sets the tone for a better life ahead.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of this story. How is it a survival story? If you've read other books by this author, do you see common themes?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate