When tragedy strikes the Dickinson family, teenage Isabel runs away from their small apartment in San Francisco to Yosemite. There, she expects to find her brother, working with the CCC. Instead, she finds the potential for a new life when she meets Enid Michael, one of the few female naturalists in the 1930s.
Aside from a few dramatic moments, the book is sedate and peaceful, almost meditative. Isabel finds a new sense of self in the mountains, even as she learns she cannot entirely leave her old life behind. This conflict is sometimes presented with a heavy hand, which is the only reason I didn’t give the book five stars. Everything except that was exactly what I could have asked for. The descriptions were beautiful, and Isabel was an intriguingly imperfect character. I enjoyed the sense of peace the book gave both the characters and me.
I would recommend this book to teenagers, especially those lucky enough to live near a national park. The View from Half Dome may well open their eyes to wonders just a little way from their door.