An enigmatic message on a bathroom wall intrigues a lonely 11-year-old girl who decides to investigate, making a friend in the process.
As her mother’s operation has sapped the family’s finances, the once-outgoing Olivia and her still ailing mom move in with Olivia’s grandmother, a woman Olivia barely knows. As her father died suddenly when she was little, Olivia is terrified her mother will die as well, and this fear has left her so emotionally frozen that she’s unable to loosen up and make friends in her new community. A message Olivia sees on a bathroom wall captures her attention: “We are Plantagenet. We are chosen.” Determined to figure out what it means, she enlists the help of a quirky classmate her grandmother introduces her to, and together the girls investigate. Although this oddball and somewhat repetitive puzzle drives the plot—other messages appear, and the girls try to figure out who or what (ETs?) wrote them—both the focus and theme of this leisurely paced story centers on Olivia’s emotional life. The unexpected explanation to the mystery helps Olivia develop a perspective that allows her to relax and participate more fully in life.
Although the story could use more dramatic pull, readers should enjoy its sympathetic protagonist and offbeat mystery element. (Fiction. 9-13)