A contemporary retelling of “Rapunzel” overcomes a somewhat connect-the-dots feel with its gentle, spirited heroine.
The tale is told in two voices: Rachel’s, the blonde girl in the tower, and Wyatt’s, a boy with a secret sorrow. Wyatt has been sent to upstate New York to stay with the mother of an old friend of his mom’s, Mrs. Greenwood, to heal from something readers don’t learn about until halfway through the story. Meanwhile Rachel, who loves the woman she calls “Mama” although she knows her real mother is dead, begins to chafe against her confinement and her loneliness, although Mama visits her each day with food, books and art supplies. Wyatt finds the diary of Mrs. Greenwood’s daughter Danielle, presumed long-dead, and begins to tie together strands that include missing teens, drug addiction, demon lovers and tears that heal. Flinn’s “towering” achievement here is Rachel. She makes readers believe in a character educated only on books brought to her and who has not been outside in years. Readers will understand how she reacts as she does to a cellphone, to walking in snow and to hair that grows so fast she can see it, and they will find her both intelligent and resourceful. Rachel and Wyatt’s romantic encounters are tender and utterly implicit.
Readers may pick it up for the reimagined fairy tale, but they’ll remember it for Rachel. (Fantasy. 12-18)