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Wintering Well
by staff writer, September 26, 2005
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Wintering Well, a middle grade novel by author Lea Wait, captures the reader's attention from the first page. It's there that we read Cassie Ames' journal entry dated August 29, 1819. The entry ends with, "I am the cause of all that happened this day. Please God, let Will live. And please, God, forgive me." And so we read on, wanting to find out what could an 11 year old girl have done that would lead her to write such words in her journal. By the end of the first chapter we know.

The beauty of this story is that it flows. It's historical fiction at its very best. From the seaport of Wiscasset, Maine, where the story takes place, we learn what life was like in 1819-1820. We're there when Maine enters the Union as a free state. We learn how doctors practiced medicine during that time and wonder how anyone survived to talk about it!

It is Cassie telling the story. She takes us along as she and her brother deal with the tragedy. The pain and suffering is real. It's even more gripping because we see and feel it from the child's eyes. We find ourselves cheering the young protagonist on to the very end of the story.  

Wintering Well is a story that'll encourage children of all ages to face life's obstacles and move beyond them.

Publisher Marketing

  • Author: Lea Wait
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books  
  • US SRP: $ 16.95 US
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Pub Date: September 2004
  • Ages: 3rd to 7th grade

Publisher Marketing: Cassie's journal opens her dramatic story and that of her older brother Will, as they are both forced to reexamine their lives after a farm accident leaves Will without a leg -- and without hope. After a winter of healing, Will knows his future must be away from the farm that he loves. He and Cassie go to stay with their older sister and her husband in the nearby town of Wiscasset. There, with the excitement of Maine's new statehood as a backdrop, Will finds that being disabled can be a social handicap as well as physical one. But with hard work he can win respect -- and find exciting possibilities for his future.

Living in town opens Cassie's eyes too. She sees Will considering career options not open to her, and she wonders if she can be fulfilled by keeping a house and a family. Are there other possibilities for a young woman in 1820? As Cassie watches Will make his life decisions, she struggles to find her own place in the world.

From the author of Stopping to Home and Seaward Born comes this remarkable story of hardship, determination, and the joy of finding the right path in life.


Click to enlarge Lea Wait is an author of children's books and adult mysteries, as well as being a fourth-generation antiques dealer and an expert in antique prints. WINTERING WELL  has been named one of "The Best Children's Books of 2004" by The Children's Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education.


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