The Lifters by David Eggers. Read by Dion Graham. Listening Library, 2018.
Granite Flowerpetal’s father named him Granite to be a strong name – but starting school in a new town, Granite has decided to try being Gran instead. They’ve just moved to his great-grandfather’s collapsing house in the tiny town of Carousel, states away from their old home in Florida. His parents – mechanic father and now wheelchair-bound artist and zoologist mother – are both out of work and hoping to find some work and lower living costs.
But their hopes seem likely to be dashed as there’s no work for the parents and no one in the small town needs a new friend – though Gran’s five-year-old sister Maisie seems to be doing fine. Gran starts to fixate on the only kid who’s talked to him, the mysterious Catalina Catalan, who wears an RBG t-shirt with a flannel tied around her waist (I kinda loved 90s grunge being so romantically portrayed.) He also befriends the school caretaker, known as the Duke, who plays his Cuban records for him and tells him about the town’s history as the leading manufacturer of hand-carved carousels, back when people cared about such things.
The town itself is collapsing – literally, as buildings fall into the ground. It’s a highly divisive political issue, as none of the adults know quite what’s causing it. A leading theory is that wild moose are rampaging through the town.
Then, Gran finds out part of Catalina’s secret – a network of underground tunnels made by the mysterious Hollows, which she’s trying to shore up and keep from collapsing. But the collapses are becoming more and more frequent. Can Catalina and Gran slow down their lifting work long enough to figure out why things are getting worse and stop them? This book, like Maggie & Abby’s Never-Ending Pillow Fort, involves a global secret society of kids, but has – I’m going to say it – an even more uplifting ending.