The Prologue of the first book in the Family Tree Quartet warns us that sometimes, as the title says, it is Better to Wish than to know what is in the future.
Abby's story starts in 1930 when she is 8. We learn that times are tough but that her father works hard. Abby's mother still grieves for the two children she lost. Abby has a good friend, Orrin, that her father doesn't want her to play with. This first chapter sets the stage for the challenges Abby faces as a girl coming to age in the Depression. Her father's intractable ideas about people and their worth, her mother's inability to stand up to her husband, the fact that under it all these are people who are just trying hard to do their best, all these things make Abby's choices hard but understandable.
This book sees Abby from childhood through adulthood, from carefree days to brave decisions. It's a lot for one 200+ page book to do. Martin does it well. Her language does not burden young readers with all the concerns that an adult reader will glean. The book has just enough introspection for the audience which is girls between the ages of 11 and 14.
I look forward to reading the other books in the quartet.