Although it is targeted towards children and adolescents, Grinza’s Orchard is a truly phenomenal read for readers of all ages. From the outset, Grinza is easy to love and relate to. As we follow her throughout her vibrant, tumultuous, life, we feel that much more connected to her and that much more invested in her journey. One can imagine how powerful Grinza’s arc can be for impressionable young children, who are rarely offered such a long-spanning account of a character’s experience that can serve as a guide to navigating life’s many challenges. In that same vein, the story is filled with powerful themes such as the importance of community, the power of optimism and resilience, and the agency of young women in shaping their own lives.
The plot of the story is further enriched in the way that it is colored by the culture and customs of Romania in the early 1900s, which imbue the narrative with a profound sense of place without stripping its universality. The setting, in addition to the characters, is brought to life by Eckhaus’ vivid illustrations, adding a contemporary flare that complements many of the book’s themes, which are sure to resonate with contemporary audiences. Eckhaus’ prose is winding and magical; it may be challenging for the youngest of readers included in the book’s target audience, but these readers are better suited to read with the support of a parent anyway, since the book includes some pretty serious content at times.
With Grinza’s Orchard, Eckhaus offers a charming and timeless fairy tale for a new generation.