Four sisters escape a difficult home life by spending more and more time in their magical closets.
Narrated in first person by 11-year-old Silly, this story is saturated with the deep sadness felt by four daughters whose mother is drinking, depressed, and unpredictably cruel to them. When the sisters discover that their closets are gateways to magical worlds, they begin to use them to seek solace and to try to learn about the source of their mother’s problems. When one sister, Marla, becomes trapped inside a closet, her sisters save her by convincing her of the wonders she’s missing in the real world beyond the closet door. There are many lessons here: that magic exists in both the mysterious and the mundane, that the same magic can heal or hurt, and that it is precisely when trouble and grief make us want to isolate ourselves that we most need to seek the comfort and the strength of those who care about us. The plot, while plagued by some loose ends, is compelling, and the sisters are distinctive and interesting characters. It is the sadness, though, that takes center stage. There is hope here as well, but it feels small and almost peripheral.
A tough read, this story of tragedy, magic, and sisterhood does proffer some rewards for readers who stick with it. (Magical realism. 10-14)