5 Sustainability Tips Inspired by The Wrong Way Home

In need of a Spring read? The Wrong Way Home by Kate O’Shaughnessy feels like shedding your chilly winter blues and stepping heart-first into the revitalizing and sunny vibes of Spring! This deep, heartfelt story will empower you to trust in yourself and redefine your definition of home.

When Fern’s mom drives her far away from the life she’s always known, everything she’s ever known is thrown into upheaval—and she’d do just about anything to get back to her familiar life on the Ranch.

After six years living in their peaceful, sustainable community in upstate New York with Dr. Ben’s wisdom and leadership, Fern doesn’t believe her mom when she says they’re in danger and need to escape. How could someone she admires and trusts so deeply be dangerous?

Feeling fearful and out of control, clinging to the beliefs she’s always known that the outside world is toxic and scary, Fern devises a plan to get back to the safe and sheltered life where she feels she belongs. It will take time to execute. Living off-the-grid means that technology is completely foreign to her, and she’ll have to figure out how to get in touch with her community at the Ranch.

Book cover for The Wrong Way Home by Kate O'Shaughnessy

Twelve-year-old Fern believes she’s living a pure and principled life–but what if everything she’s been told is a lie?

This heart swelling story explores the power of lies we want to believe and one girl’s journey to a new understanding of home.

Fern’s lived at the Ranch, an off-the-grid, sustainable community in upstate New York, since she was six. The work is hard, but Fern admires the Ranch’s leader, Dr. Ben. So when Fern’s mother sneaks them away in the middle of the night and says Dr. Ben is dangerous, Fern doesn’t believe it. She wants desperately to go back, but her mom just keeps driving.

Suddenly Fern is thrust into the treacherous, toxic, outside world.

At first she thinks only about how to get home. She has a plan, but it will take time. As that time goes by, though, Fern realizes there are things she will miss from this place—the library, a friend from school, the ocean—and there are things she learned at the Ranch that are just…not true.

Now Fern will have to decide. How much is she willing to give up to return to the Ranch? Should she trust Dr. Ben’s vision for her life? Or listen to the growing feeling that she can live by her own rules?

THE WRONG WAY HOME is a huge-hearted story about a girl learning to see beauty in broken-ness and embracing a new vision of home.

The Wrong Way Home
AUTHOR: Kate O’Shaughnessy
PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers
DATE: April 2, 2024

But as she settles into her new life in Driftaway Beach, a small seaside town in California, it starts to feel like home there, too. She finds that she likes making her own decisions and forming her own vision for her life. Her beliefs are challenged at every turn, and her understanding of the world around her starts to shift in an eye-opening way, especially after she realizes that some of the things she learned at the Ranch simply aren’t true.

As Fern explores her quaint new town and makes a friend at school, they band together for a science product to debunk the myth of the Spirit of the Sea, a local myth about a ghost of a lighthouse keeper that haunts the cliffs above town, investigating the mysterious happenings surrounding this local legend.

Will Fern be able to embrace her new life and redefine her vision of home, or will she risk it all to get back to the comfort and safety of the life she’s always known? You’ll have to read it to find out!

From cleaning up litter to discovering a love of thrifting, Fern is passionate about environmental sustainability – something that’s true no matter where she lives. Author Kate O’Shaughnessy says, “Finding ways to be more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be hard—it can be fun!” which is why she put together five sustainability tips inspired by The Wrong Way Home that you can implement in your own life!

Author Kate O’Shaughnessy Shares 5 Sustainability Tips Inspired by The Wrong Way Home:

Make sustainability a part of your community:

In The Wrong Way Home, Fern’s science teacher, Mr. Carlson, runs an extra credit program called “Mr. Carlson’s Class Cleans Up.” He gives out a litter pick-up kit to every interested student, and Fern jumps at the chance to participate. Soon she has a goal of collecting one thousand pounds of litter. She even inspires the local motorcycle gang to start cleaning up the parking lot where they meet.

These kinds of initiatives don’t have to just come from your teachers or adults in your life—they can come from you! This can be anything from organizing a group of friends or family to spend a sunny afternoon cleaning up your local beach, hosting a clothing swap party, or founding a tree planting project in your community if there isn’t one already.

Walk or bike to school—if you can!:

The Wrong Way Home is set mostly in a small seaside town in Northern California, called Driftaway Beach. (Fun fact: Driftaway Beach is inspired by a real place called Rockaway Beach, which is a small part of Pacifica, California. They even have a funky teashop and a seaside motel, just like in The Wrong Way Home!) The town is so small that everything is within walking distance.

At first, Fern doesn’t like it, but soon she starts using her walk to school to do things she likes—like listening to audiobooks. If you live close to school, or in a walkable community, walking or biking to school can be a great way to be more sustainable.

Go thrifting:

It’s important to look and feel your best, and clothes are a great way to creatively express yourself. But every year, millions of tons of textile waste go to landfills. In The Wrong Way Home, Fern goes thrifting with her mom and they both find some amazing things: her mom gets a cool leather jacket and Fern finds a soft, pillowy white coat that reminds her of a cloud.

Instead of always buying something new, be like Fern and head to the thrift store. Not only are you giving the clothes a second life, but you also have the chance to find some rare, unique pieces that totally set you apart.

Closeup of Fern from the cover of The Wrong Way Home

Grow a garden at home or find a plot at a community garden:

You don’t have to live on a farm or have lots of land to grow your own food. Even though Fern and her mom live in a motel room after they leave the Ranch, the reclusive community where Fern grew up, Fern’s mom still fills their small room with plants. Lots of vegetables grow well in containers, so even if you live in an apartment, you can grow your own garden on a small outdoor patio or balcony.

If that isn’t an option, you can also look up community gardens where you can rent a garden plot. I promise—nothing tastes as good as a meal you’ve grown yourself!

Use your voice:

It might not always feel like it, but you can make big changes in the world by using your voice.

This can be as big as organizing a climate change protest at your school, or as small as sending emails to your favorite company, asking them to consider more sustainable packaging options. This can be anything from your favorite snack food brand to a company that sells toys encased in lots of plastic. Your voice is powerful—so use it!

📚Bookshelf feeling bare? We’ve got you covered, bookworm! Discover all your new favorite reads HERE!

Previous Post Next Post