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by Beth Kephart

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-166796-1
Publisher: Laura Geringer/HarperCollins

A long-buried mystery weaves its way through this delicately layered portrait of a grief-stricken daughter and father that meditates on the nature of loss. Listless and withdrawn following the death of her mother, Katie takes a summer job as a landscaper on the estate of the enigmatic, reclusive Miss Martine. Meanwhile, Katie’s father, a conservator, is commissioned to restore an unusual painting, which may be linked to Miss Martine’s decades-old disappearance from public life. Kephart’s latest is characterized by the same achingly lovely prose that distinguished her earlier novels for teens, Undercover (2007) and House of Dance (2008). However, the characters are at times too idealized and adult—as when 17-year-old Katie thinks to herself that “Mom used to say that being responsible has its own rewards, and the more I live the more I figure that she was right about that.” Teens with a taste for literary fiction will appreciate the deft wordsmithing and be touched by the unabashed tenderness of the narrative, but it is unlikely to have wide appeal. (Fiction. 12 & up)