Book Review: Maggie Elizabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert


Title: Maggie Elizabeth Harrington

Author: D.J. Swykert

Published: 2013

Pages: 180

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Format: Print copy mailed by author

My rating: 3/5


Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is the story of a young woman in a remote 1890’s northern Michigan mining town trying to save a pack of young wolves from a bounty hunter. A terse historical love story of a young woman’s struggle with environmental and moral issues concerning the slaughter of wolves, and the churches condemnation of her love for a young man, are as real in today’s global world as they were for young Maggie over a century ago.


The story of Maggie Elizabeth was not what I imagined – by reading the synopsis, I was thinking of a heroine who redefined all of history and went on to start a revolution for saving wildlife. Of course, that would be too easy 😉 What we find instead is a teenager in love and who questions and challenges why things are the way they are: like why her father drowns the newborn kittens, or why men and women sit on opposite sides of the aisle during church but not during a funeral, or why hunters want the pelt/heads of wolves.

I love how morals play such a huge role in this novel and how the innocence of Maggie Elizabeth makes her beliefs make so much sense but not to the elders in the community or her ‘practical’ friend Annie. “We all come into this world from the same place” as she refers to kittens, chickens, wolves, and humans. Or one of my other favorites about the reverend “I don’t understand why you have to make life so complicated when it’s really very easy. If you don’t harm anything, and don’t take what doesn’t belong to you…I don’t understand why you have to do all this praying and studying to get into heaven.”

As I read through, Maggie Elizabeth’s point kept making me wonder, Is there really anything/anyone we can save? and What’s the point? Not in a morbid what’s the point of living way but more-so what control do we have when human nature is consistent and people/habits of animals are difficult to change (if at all)? Such a big question to be answered, no less by a thirteen year old as she does her best to do what is right and stand up for herself.

The structure of the writing was reminiscent of a teenager, where first love and emotions reign actions and thoughts, taking risks, understanding differences in family and friends, and becoming independent. We are able to see into Maggie Elizabeth’s thoughts and are roped in to the revolving mind of a girl coming of age. At times, the repetition was distracting, however I feel it depicts that age of thinking constantly about the same people and events, replaying them in the mind to make sense and work through them.

Read Maggie Elizabeth Harrington if you like the themes of:

  • Innocence
  • Coming of Age
  • Young love
  • Sacrifice

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