A novel in verse tells the story of Millie’s 11th year.
Millie, a Canadian white girl whose twin brother, Billy, died at birth, is unhappy when her parents separate. She speaks to Billy, and he responds in her imagination. Some readers may find this unusual, but it’s a comfort to Millie, and she needs some. She finds little sympathy from her older sister, and her parents seem preoccupied. Millie’s mother’s new romance is introduced in intermittent text-message transcripts. The two sisters visit their father every other weekend and find the situation difficult. Most of the girl’s quotidian experiences are described plainly: school, friends, fights with sister and mother, and her father’s brush with cancer. Her voice in Lawrence’s verse is evocative if also idiosyncratic, as when she remarks on how her mother “tries to buttermilk” the sisters. It is the desire for a dog that becomes all-important after Millie and a friend bring a found stray to a shelter. Her father can’t keep one, and her mother doesn’t want one. A friendship with a Cree woman who adopts the stray dog opens the door to Millie’s hopes, and when her parents agree to go camping together (albeit in separate tents), they soar; her imagined Billy observes: “Three tents, two canoes, one pup / sounds like a family.”
Millie’s reactions to the events of an emotionally trying time are affecting and realistic. (Verse/fiction. 8-12)