[Book Review] Changes for Caroline (American Girls: Caroline, #6) by Kathleen Ernst

Caroline receives a letter asking her to come and help on Uncle Aaron's new farm. Although she hates to leave her family, Caroline is pleased to see her cousin Lydia--and to meet Lydia's pretty cow and sweet baby calf! Determined to help out in any way she can, Caroline keeps watch when a thief starts sneaking around the farm. Then she makes an unexpected discovery--and learns that some things are not as simple as they seem. When Caroline returns home at last for an Independence Day celebration, she is treated to a wonderful surprise.

Changes for Caroline is the last of the American Girl: Caroline books--or at least, the last book of the series proper, as there is already one spin-off Caroline book in the American Girls Mysteries series--and so far, it's been a series I've quite enjoyed. Unfortunately, I found Changes for Caroline to be the weakest of the lot.

The story follows Caroline to her cousin Lydia's new home, a farm that Caroline is going to help her relatives get up-and-running. It's an Independence Day story, which fits the patriotic theme of the series, and quite moralistic; the main plotline deals with thievery, the needy, and how to deal with theft committed out of desperation--though, admittedly, it's a child-appropriate and thus simplistic exploration of the topic. And while it's not a bad story by any means, I'm kind of disappointed.

Caroline's main plotline is the War of 1812 and its effects on the town of Sackets Harbor, but Changes for Caroline uproots the main character to another location entirely and focuses on a conflict that has nothing of importance to do with the military conflict. It almost feels like a non-ending from the perspective of the series as a whole; after five books of dealing with the war, I find it very strange that the final book--which would normally (and should, as far as I'm concerned) wrap up the overarching plot in some capacity--all but forgets that premise to tell much more simplistic story about morality.

Honestly, I just think it's a really weak ending to what has so far been a very enjoyable series, and I definitely think Ernst could have chosen a much more climactic, interesting story to tell. Alas.

In any case, I look forward to reading Traitor in the Shipyard, Caroline's book in the Mysteries spin-off series, and I can't wait to see who's next in the line-up. I'm hoping for an Asian American this time around; perhaps a Chinese American girl in the transcontinental railroad era or a Japanese American girl during World War 2?

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