While their father teaches for a semester in Hawaii, Sara and her older brother, Sam, make friends with a stray cat and a local loner--Eddie Nutt, a boy in Sam's class; and learn that love is essential even though it brings loss. Neither Sara nor Sam has made friends in Hawaii, and their parents are preoccupied with their grandmother's sudden terminal illness. Taming the half-starved cat draws them together while--in a parallel development--they become friends with Eddie. Three events compel the children to confront love and loss: Grandma dies; Eddie's mother, from whom he has not heard in three years, wants him to come live with her, and Eddie's father doesn't seem to care; and the cat, Broccoli, is accidentally killed, leaving kittens. Sara narrates the story on tapes that are sent to her loved teacher and class back in Boston as an oral-history project, but confiding in this way also serves to comfort Sara and help her sort things through. Her voice is believably that of an 11-year-old who grows in sensitivity through experience--a subtle characterization in a deceptively simple narrative that neatly weaves its threads to support their common theme and includes a wealth of revealing, memorable scenes: Sara comforting her grieving mother, who has just courageously consoled her own weeping mother; the loving family interaction at Grandma's funeral picnic; the entrancing way the kittens are saved from the shelter when it's time to go back to Boston. Another fine, accessible book from an accomplished author.