The Ashwater Experiment

Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
The Ashwater Experiment Book Poster Image
A sharp take on junior high relationships.

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is an uncommon story and a sharp, realistic take on junior high relationships.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old January 31, 2015

Rings True

Hillary feels like an outsider. She and her family move from place to place, selling her mom's homemade 'gizmos'. Hillary likes moving, so when h... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

It was the best book EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think it was the best book EVER!!!!! I read it and thought it was alot like ME!!!!!! Peace out!!!!

What's the story?

Pretending she is part of an alien experiment helps Hillary adjust to life in the town of Ashwater, and then she relaxes enough to taste the joys of friendship for the first time. Twelve-year-old Hillary, a loner whose family frequently moves, is realistically and sympathetically presented.


Is it any good?

Hillary's way of coping -- creating a fantasy experiment -- allows her to maintain an emotional distance from her own life, and to make some pretty sharp observations of both her parents and peers. She is quickly able to get beyond the stereotypes of the popular girl and the angry outsider to see the complex humanity in each.

Hillary's alien-observation fantasy may be off-putting for some readers, though she clearly abandons the pretense by story's end. When she tells her new friend Cass about it and asks, "Do you think I was crazy?" Cass responds, "No. I think you were lonely"--the perfect response from an understanding friend.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about forging friendships. Why does Hillary create her fantasy experiment? Once she begins to set that aside, how does her life change? She manages to befriend people in different cliques. How do you think she's able to do that?

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