What wouldn’t a desperate man do to help his children? What wouldn’t desperate kids do to save their dad and themselves?
White siblings Jack, 12, and Pippa, 10, are drowning in grief after their adored mother’s recent death. They reveal themselves in alternating first-person, present-tense chapters filled with keenly self-aware yet realistic-sounding observations not entirely devoid of humor. Jack’s crushing pain often manifests itself in angry confusion and isolation; Pippa covers her despair with elective mutism. As if bereavement weren’t awful enough, they soon learn that their financially strapped father has lost his business; there’s no money for necessities and the mortgage on their lakefront house. Then comes another tremendous blow. Out of funds, credit, and options, Dad robs a bank while Jack waits, horrified, outside. In time Pippa pieces clues together and realizes what happened. In empowering Jack to prevent their father from committing another crime she discovers the strength finally to speak out; appalled and contrite, Dad surrenders and is imprisoned. This well-written novel isn’t unremittingly cheerless. A sense of hope springs from two other well-realized characters—a white, teenage, new neighbor who’s Jack’s crush; and a kindly, white family friend and confidante. Each in her own way helps the children slowly emerge from darkness and allow their inner resilience to blossom. The novel’s ending is most satisfying and touching.
A heartbreaking, uplifting ode to staying true to family even in the worst of times. (Fiction. 10-14)