Review: Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony


Title: Restoring Harmony

Author: Joelle Anthony

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN: 978-0399252815


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

I love the premise of Restoring Harmony.  There has been a worldwide economic upheaval, all of the remaining oil has been seized by the government, and there are shortages of everything, including food.  People have drifted away from cities so they can farm and try to feed themselves, and everyone is learning to do without luxuries that we take for granted.  I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have access to my email or Twitter for the span of a day, I start to get a rash.  Ugh.

Molly is a tough, resourceful heroine who packs up a few of her meager belongings and strikes off for the US to bring her grandfather back home with her.  Her home is an isolated farming island in Canada, where she and her family live a spare, but happy, life.  Her mother is pregnant, but things aren’t going well, and the only doctor on the island has been killed in an unfortunate accident.   Molly’s grandfather is a doctor, and the family has gotten word that her grandmother died, so Molly sets off to make sure he is OK.  Her real mission is to bring him back with her, because their community desperately needs a doctor.

Because of her age, Molly has to sneak into the States with a little help from a relative.  Things go wrong from the get-go, and soon her plans are quickly unraveled.  Through sheer willpower, she finds a way, and the strength, to make it to her grandfather’s house, and what she finds causes her a great deal of dismay.  This future of a decaying landscape is evocatively described, though I didn’t think the individuals who peopled this struggling countryside were painted with enough desperation. 

Molly is in control and at home in her surroundings from the moment the story begins, and I never doubted for an instant that she would successfully find a way to bring her grandfather home with her.  Because she is so clever and determined to complete her task, there wasn’t much in the way suspense.  She is more at home at her grandfather’s house than he is, and she quickly and skillfully begins to work the neighbor’s ailing garden, so she solves their food shortage problem soon after she arrives.  Molly has never known another way of life, so working hard and doing without the modern conveniences that her parents took for granted  is easy for her.  She has never known anything else, so things aren’t really all that difficult for her.  She already has all of the survival skills she needs; it’s some cash to travel back to Canada that is elusive, but even that falls into her lap.

Now, repairing her damaged relationship with her grandfather was tough for her, because at first, they don’t have anything in common.  They may be related by blood, but they have no shared history, and they are basically strangers.  Her grandfather is still mad at her mother for giving up her medical studies and moving to Canada with Molly’s dad, and he just can’t forgive her for that.  Even when Molly begs him to go back with her because her mother needs a doctor or she might die, he is unmoved.  Her grandpa is one tough old geezer!

Little by little, the two learn to communicate, and with that, they learn to care for each other.  The personal relationships in Restoring Harmony are really the heart of the story, and they are what made the book compelling for me.  Molly has many new connections she needs to nurture, and she finds that people are a lot more effort than the plants in the garden.  A little water and sunshine doesn’t quite cut it where her grandfather is concerned, and the evasive, but extraordinarily charming Spill, and his mysterious and dangerous associates, require her to stretch her social skills to the limit.

Restoring Harmony wasn’t the death-defying dystopian read I was expecting. It was instead a thoughtful and introspective tale about a very clever girl, her standoffish grandfather, and a handsome, helpful, but dangerous, stranger.  It proves that though nurturing the seeds of family ties are difficult and time consuming, they are more than worth the effort – the crop you yield will stay with your for the rest of your life. 

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by publisher

6 thoughts on “Review: Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

  • June 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    A lovely review, I love the theme of the book, and think that this is a book I would love reading. Thanks.

  • July 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Great review! I had been avoiding this book because I am burned out on dystopias. I think that now I am more eager to read it because of the relationships. I’m glad you liked it.

  • July 5, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Very nice review! I like books set in the future, so this one sounds good. Have a great week!

  • July 5, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Wow this sounds like a really intense read. Great detailed review. Thanks for sharing!


  • July 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Here from CEP!

    Your review has given me good insight into this book. I have a better idea of what to expect now. Wonderful review!

  • July 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I love reading dystopian novels. My students love reading them and they are just good fodder for thinking about what life would be like without creature comforts like technology and modern conveniences. Thanks for the review!

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