THE KEENING

Fourteen-year-old Lyza lives with her parents on an isolated point of land outside a small coastal Maine town in 1918. Her mother lovingly protects her father from the world, protection he needs since he spends most of his time carving the faces of angels only he can see. After her mother suddenly dies during the influenza epidemic, Lyza must move beyond her grief to find a way to keep her father safe from extended family members who would institutionalize him. With the help of her only friend, Jake, she gradually comes to a fuller understanding of both her father’s visions and his seemingly tenuous grasp on reality. Lyrical language, an underlying mystery that is only slowly revealed and Lyza’s fully realized character make this a compelling read. Her vivid dreams weave in and out of her reality, and less sophisticated readers may find this intermingling confusing at first. Those who are carried along by her story will enjoy a surprise ending that moves this entertaining effort beyond historical fiction into mild though plausible fantasy. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-57131-692-9

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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FABLEHAVEN

Witty repartee between the central characters, as well as the occasional well-done set piece, isn’t enough to hold this hefty debut together. Teenagers Seth and Kendra are dropped off by traveling parents at their grandfather’s isolated Connecticut estate, and soon discover why he’s so reluctant to have them—the place is a secret haven for magical creatures, both benign and decidedly otherwise. Those others are held in check by a complicated, unwritten and conveniently malleable Compact that is broken on Midsummer Eve, leaving everyone except Kendra captive in a hidden underground chamber with a newly released demon. Mull’s repeated use of the same device to prod the plot along comes off as more labored than comic: Over and over an adult issues a stern but vague warning; Seth ignores it; does some mischief and is sorry afterward. Sometimes Kendra joins in trying to head off her uncommonly dense brother. She comes into her own at the rousing climax, but that takes a long time to arrive; stick with Michael Buckley’s “Sisters Grimm” tales, which carry a similar premise in more amazing and amusing directions. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59038-581-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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