Author Polly Horvath has brought back her lovable character Primrose Squarp from the Newbery Honor book Everything on a Waffle for another year of life in Coal Harbor, a fishing village in British Columbia. Having survived the earlier time when her parents were missing at sea, Primrose now finds herself at loose ends. In lieu of any better project, she makes it her mission to bring together her Uncle Jack and the lovely Miss Bowzer, even if it seems to be against their own intentions. In addition, Primrose decides she herself is in desperate need of a best friend.
Fortunately, her grown-up friends Bert and Evie become foster parents to a teenage boy named Ked who is also in need of a friend. Together they plan the next cookbook for the Fisherman’s Aid fundraiser and bike up to Mendolay Mountain to enjoy the scenery and the quiet. Just as everything in Primrose’s life seems to be settling in to an enjoyable routine, several upsetting things happen at once: Miss Bowzer’s old boyfriend returns to town loggers come to clearcut the mountain, and Ked is accused of stealing. Things go from bad to worse and Primrose is sure nothing will be right again.
As the heroine struggles, the reader is privileged to listen in on her first-person thoughts. Primrose’s observations about people and life in general are worth the reading on their own, and her inclusion of the recipes she gathers adds its own flavor to the tale. Horvath creates a world in which we can truly feel all that a smart 12-year-old girl can feel and leaves us wiser for having done so. You need not have read Everything on a Waffle to enjoy this book, but everything about One Year in Coal Harbor will make you want to.