Chasing Redbird centers around Zinny, a 13-year-old girl, who discovers an old, overgrown trail behind her family's farm in Bybanks, Kentucky. The story follows her efforts to clear this trail all the way from her backyard to the neighboring town of Chocton. The project becomes her obsession over the course of a summer in which she is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her beloved Aunt Jessie and the past death of her 4-year-old cousin Rose. It also helps her develop a sense of independence and identity, which she desperately desires as one of a family of seven children. The most captivating part of the story for me was 16-year-old Jake Boone's sweet, though often illegal!, attempts to impress Zinny. Readers will find the ending gratifying as Zinny, at long last, is freed from the guilt and lack of self-esteem that has burdened her for far too much of her young life.
I recommend this book to upper elementary students who enjoy coming of age stories mixed with a smidge of innocently humorous romance.