A throwback style of storytelling deals with love, loss and new beginnings in a familiar way.
Piper Lee DeLuna, 10, is on a mission. Convinced her pilot dad, whose plane plummeted into the Atlantic four years ago, is still alive, Piper plots to bust up her mother's plan to marry prison guard, Ben. The fact that Ben has his own 10-year-old daughter, Ginger, is even more incentive to stop the wedding. Young readers will relate to the squabbles between Piper Lee and Ginger. However, what young readers may find harder to believe is the overall tone of the book. With the 10-year-olds using such phrases as “all riled up,” "Boy, howdy" and “Gee willikers,” the novel reads like a story from another era; the Georgia setting can’t justify this antique-sounding language. Yet a subplot that finds Piper Lee entangled with an Internet predator places the story squarely in the 21st century. Plenty of heart is not enough to make up for the lack of freshness. Kids who spend lots of time with grandma and grandpa might recognize the old-fashioned phrases, but for most, the juxtaposition of the old-time expressions will clash with the contemporary world.
This sweet throwback could have used a dash of zest and a pinch of modern dialogue. (Fiction. 8-12)