A 12-year-old Appalachian girl tries to come to terms with her supernatural gift at the start of World War II.
Sometimes, when Laurel Grace—usually known as Bone—touches an object, she can get a glimpse of its past. When she picked up her friend Will’s father’s dinner bucket, she was flooded with memories of his death in a mining accident a decade before. When she wears her mother’s yellow sweater she feels Mama’s loving touch, smells her lavender scent. Mama died of influenza six years ago, and now, with Daddy drafted into the Army, she’s being made to live with Mama’s sister, Aunt Mattie, who sees the family gifts as curses and wants to pray Bone’s out of her. But why? Smibert surrounds Bone with a loving, complicated extended family and gives her plot just enough heft for both realism and reader engagement. The coal-field setting is particularly well-drawn, with details such as children at play sliding down a slag heap instead of a snowdrift. Feed-sack dresses aren’t a cliché here, and neither is Smibert’s language, which feels real and down-to-earth, like her characters. “The morning wore on like a sermon on a hot day.” Only the ending, which sets up a three-volume series, lacks punch, but that won’t keep readers from wanting to revisit.
An intriguing blend of history and magic. (Historical/paranormal fiction. 8-14)