In the latest installment of Mularz’s (White Flutters in Munich, 2015, etc.) middle-grade series, a young girl’s cryptic, psychic dreams suggest a mystery to solve.
Andrew Madigan’s archaeological assignments have taken his family from Italy to Germany, but then he takes a sabbatical, which means spending a year in Maine with his parents. Fifteen-year-old Ellen had to leave friends behind in Europe, but she continues to have the unusual dreams that she had there; twice before they’ve revealed clues in the past for her to investigate. At her grandparents’ house, she has a new dream before school starts, about a young Native American girl named Katetin and the hardships that she and her Abenaki tribe endured. Ellen doesn’t immediately know what mystery the dream is revealing, but she’s certain that there is one. In school, she tries to befriend the unpopular Gwen Hardwick and is quickly besotted with muscular, French-accented Laurent Fletcher. But Gwen is harboring a family secret that causes her to reject Ellen’s efforts to get close, and it seems that Laurent already has a girlfriend—maybe. Meanwhile, Ellen’s dreams about Katetin and her lineage inch toward the present day. Months pass, with instances of happiness and tragedy, but Ellen remains determined to solve the puzzle—if she can figure out what the pieces are. Mularz makes sure that her recurring protagonist’s most remarkable quality isn’t her psychic gift, but her empathy: Ellen is miserable when Gwen has problems at home, and she shares others’ happiness—even mean-girl Becca’s, who never masks her disdain for Ellen. Although it’s fun to watch the protagonist decipher her dreams, the mystery remains elusive, and each step in the solution generally entails simply waiting for the next dream to occur. There is, however, a thorough resolution to the story by the end. Ellen’s narration exudes sincerity, as when she describes a snowy winter: “I feel like I inhabit a cold, dark world, lit by electricity and warmed by burning wood.” A bittersweet ending leaves room for a fourth outing in the series.
A winsome tale of a girl whose paranormal gift is only one of the traits that makes her exceptional.