I stopped talking so my father would listen to me. He spent his evenings sitting alone in his study with the lights out. . . . It was because my mother died."" Whelan's first sentence is just a bit glib for its subject matter, though it is likely to snap readers to attention, and the whole story is a bit too neat to make a strong impression. When her mother dies and Claire stops talking, her minister father gives up his affluent suburban post for the ""mission"" he's always dreamed of in the Northern Michigan woods. Though Claire resents the move, she soon makes friends with Dorrie, a girl her age (13) who lives alone in a hovel in the woods because her mother is dead and her surly, drunken father is in jail. Sharing Dorrie's goat and her shack-building project changes Claire's mind about wanting to go back to the suburbs, and fleeing with Dorrie from the other girl's abusive father (just out of jail) leads to hairy moments on a raft--where Claire, concerned for her friend, breaks her silence by calling Dorrie's name. Both Claire's behavior and her new natural surroundings might find constituencies. The process of her recovery is convincing as far as it goes, and so is the north woods setting; but neither is deeply felt.