THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS by Isabelle Holland


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 Uneven but engrossing tale about Bridget, 14, who-- suspecting that her father wishes he had never adopted her-- suddenly finds her birth parents' old house. Bridget is furious: Daddy has bundled off the family, including nonspeaking little brother Morgan, to summer in northern New Hampshire instead of on their usual Maine island, largely at the suggestion of new nanny Ingrid, who is maddeningly insistent on reminding Bridget that she's overweight and adopted. There, in a mysterious old house, Bridget finds clues that will eventually lead her to her birth parents' name and the sad reason that she was given up. She also meets Elissa, an understanding artist who offers an acceptance that Bridget and Morgan haven't found at home and who acts as a catalyst for several changes, including a confrontation that finally causes Morgan to speak and Bridget to ask for a chance to meet her natural father. Beginning with Daddy's choice of the New Hampshire location, there are too many contrivances and unanswered questions here. Elissa's past is unnecessarily mysterious, and it's not clear why Morgan doesn't speak; moreover, his big moment is trampled over by Bridget's argument with her father. Also, Bridget's overwrought sensitivity about her looks and manners becomes tiresome. Still, her concerns are shared by many youngsters, the situation is inherently dramatic, and Holland writes with skill enough that the reader really does care what happens. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-316-37178-5
Page count: 194pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991