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CALLING THE SWAN by Jean Thesman

CALLING THE SWAN

By Jean Thesman

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-670-88874-5
Publisher: Viking

This piercingly sad tale of a haunted family is assembled like a jigsaw puzzle, piece by piece. Skylar’s resolve to take a summer class at a high school downtown is almost buried beneath her own apprehension and her mother’s irrationally frantic concern for her safety. Alexandra, Skylar’s older sister and sole confidante, offers only weak encouragement, and withdraws even that when Skylar begins making friends with several classmates. Thesman (The Other Ones, 1999) brings the picture into focus slowly, dropping tantalizing hints about why Skylar is so fragile emotionally, her mother sliding rapidly toward a nervous breakdown, and all of their friends and neighbors gone cold and distant. Observant readers will gradually catch on that there is something strange about Alexandra; as it turns out, however real she may be to Skylar, she was in fact abducted three years before. Exploring the public and private effects of a family member’s sudden, never-explained disappearance, Thesman takes a more restrained, but no less emotionally intense, tack than Michael Cadnum in Zero at the Bone (1996), adds a further hint of mystery by suggesting that Alexandra is visible not just to Skylar, but to her two-year-old brother too, and ultimately brings Skylar to the point where she can bid her sister’s ghost good-bye. One and a half hankies. (Fiction. 11-13)