THE SPIRIT WINDOW by Joyce Sweeney


Age Range: 12 - 15
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 Lost tempers and conflicting loyalties color this bitter story of a family divided over the fate of a tract of Florida land. Miranda, 15, doesn't know why her father, Richard, and her grandmother, Lila, haven't spoken for years; she finds out when Lila, after a heart attack, invites Richard down to Turtle Island. The rift came when Richard promised to sell the land, upon inheriting it, to Skip Wilson, his closest childhood friend and a real-estate developer. Lila is a brisk and cheery old woman, looking decades younger than her age, and with an intimate knowledge of the local wildlife. Miranda is quickly won over, both by Lila and by the swamp's bird life and other beauties- -including Lila's handsome young half-Cherokee gardener, Adam. An avid photographer with sharp powers of observation, Miranda is a complex, believably developed teenager, but Sweeney (Free Fall, 1996, etc.) makes Richard the central character: He's a psychiatrist with a gift for alienating everyone he loves, responsible for nearly all the conflict, and, judging by the ferocity of his mood swings and tantrums, the one who feels his own failures most keenly. When Lila dies of a second heart attack and in her videotaped will entrusts the swamp to Adam, whom she knows will preserve it, Richard is torn between fighting for the property, or salvaging his remaining family relationships. After all the heartache, misunderstanding, and regrets, readers will be more exhausted than cheered by his choice. A novel of fierce emotions, credibly brewed. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-32510-X
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997


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