Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Hollis Woods, the main character, is a problem-child orphan who basically spends most of her life shipped around from foster home to foster home. The only family she’s ever really pictured herself staying in is Steven’s, in a perfect house by a river, under a mountain. During her brief stay at Steven’s house, she and Steven get into an accident, and as problems worsen she runs away from them. Later, she gets sent to a foster home with a woman named Josie Cahill, an artist. Josie is beautiful and wonderful and has a great cat, but she’s slowly forgetting things, to the point where it might be dangerous for her to live alone, and nobody notices this problem but Hollis, who begins to love her. When the agency comes to take Hollis away and to possibly put Josie in a home, Hollis runs them both away to Steven’s summer home in the mountains, the only place she knows to be safe, where she eventually finds that being a part of a family is not impossible.
Hollis is one of the funniest and most relatable characters I’ve ever read because she’s really stubborn and doesn’t say much. I know every teen book ever is about some quiet kid who has a huge attitude in their head, and it gets really cliché after a while, but what I really like about Hollis is that she doesn’t overthink things or constantly spew her feelings about everything all over the place. She just does it. And that was perfect for me.
What I loved most about this book was the way the story was told. First of all, Patricia Reilly Giff is a wonderful writer, and the details she includes are perfect. But also the story is told with every other chapter in the past timeline, alternating with the present. So you get to see both stories unfold, and they were really well-timed so that as one falls into tragedy the other heals the wounds.
I would actually just recommend this in general to anyone as a really great book, but especially to teens, just because Hollis is a teenager herself.
Review by Jasper