Books by Lael Littke

LAKE OF SECRETS by Lael Littke
Released: March 1, 2001

Past lives, small-town secrets, and the unsolved disappearance of a four-year-old all come together in Littke's readable, but uneven novel. Fifteen-year-old Carlene and her mother have returned to the small town where Carlene's little brother disappeared 18 years earlier. Although Keith vanished before Carlene was born, she has lived with the consequences of the tragedy: her mother's bottomless grief and the resulting breakup of the marriage and loss of her father. The discovery of a child's clothing in an old mine brings her mother back to the scene of the crime and she is driven to find out what happened to her son once and for all. The town seems to be caught in a time warp: the same people are there, doing the same things they were doing at the time of the tragedy. Almost immediately, Carlene begins "remembering" events that happened in the town, things she clearly could not have been privy to. She begins to think she may be experiencing memories from a past life that somehow link her to Keith's disappearance. While this plot line has the potential to be hokey, Littke pulls it off until the final chapters, when a past-life regression goes bad and the events surrounding Keith's vanishing and subsequent death are replayed with the same key players involved all over again. Until then, the story was fairly believable. The handful of main characters are well developed, the small town has just enough eccentrics to keep things interesting, and Carlene is a well-rounded, typical teenager, alternately despising her mother for making her leave her friends and feeling sorry for the immense loss to their family. Only partly successful. (Fiction. 12-15)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

A tale of twins—one dead, one alive—becomes an ineffective hybrid: part ghost story, part multiple-personality yarn, part romance. When goody-goody Janine, 16, cuts school to go for a ride with budding boyfriend Scott, both of them are critically injured when another driver smashes into their car. Janine has a near-death experience in which her mischievous twin, Lenore, who drowned at age four, moves into Janine's body to sample the life she's missed. It's a promising start—is Lenore a real spirit presence, or just a manifestation of Janine's darker side? Revelations—that it was Janine who died when they were four, and that Lenore took Janine's name and became a compulsively "good" girl in the wake of the accident—won't surprise mystery fans (or viewers of spidery Bette Davis films). The real disappointment is the agelessness of the dead twin, whose sexual appetites and use of contemporary slang place her as a teenager, but who can also be jarringly childlike. An astute therapist grounds the story; so does the twins' mother, who knows the truth but believes the surviving twin must come to it on her own. The ending—Janine/Lenore accepts that she is a blend of two people, good and bad—is a valiant attempt to bring many ideas together, but the plotting overwhelms Littke (Blue Skye, 1991, etc.); wavering between full-blown grotesque and moments of deep feeling, her story gets lost in the middle. (Fiction. 12-14) Read full book review >
BLUE SKYE by Lael Littke
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

Still another book that hinges on a child's abandonment by a flighty mother. Like Mama in MacLachlan's Journey (p. 1013), Reanna indulges her wanderlust, leaving Skye, 11, with Grandpa on the Idaho farm where Reanna grew up. Skye has always traveled with her single mother as she moved from one pickup job to another, but now Reanna has married Bill and the two of them have gone off on motorcycles, ostensibly to research a book about odd place names, without admitting to Skye how long their absence will be. Skye plots to follow them in Reanna's old car, but the battery is dead; while she's contriving to replace it, she adopts a family of kittens, gets to know some great aunts, cousins, and a little boy next door—whose history is rougher than hers, but who now lives with a pleasant, earth-motherly friend—and begins to make an accommodation with her gruff but good-hearted grandfather. When she finally gets the car started, she runs over one of the kittens by mistake; the way everyone rallies round to comfort her helps her decide to stay with Grandpa when Reanna turns up and, ungraciously, agrees to take Skye with her. Skye's story doesn't have Journey's power or its elegant craft (few books do), but it's an accessible, warm-hearted tale about finding a home in an extended family of well-individualized characters. Thoughtful and solidly entertaining. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >