Born during a storm, Caroline Murphy, a 12-year-old black girl, is convinced that she has been cursed with bad luck.
The old ladies around her way say this is the fate of any child born during a hurricane. Recent events in her life seem to confirm this. Feeling unwanted by everyone, especially since the abrupt departure of her mom, Caroline leads a difficult life. She is bullied by those at her school in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, including her teacher, for her skin, which is darker than theirs. She is also followed around by a spirit—the woman in black—that she is sure only she can see. The arrival of a new student from Barbados changes Caroline’s life significantly. Also bullied, the exuberantly dreadlocked Kalinda becomes Caroline’s first and only friend, and soon Caroline’s feelings blossom into something more than platonic. This spells problems for Caroline, since feelings like these are considered sinful in Catholic school. Caroline now must deal with growing up without a mother and her feelings for Kalinda, all while trying to figure out why the woman in black will not leave her alone. Her journey to the answers to her most burning questions finds her discovering much about herself and those around her. Writing in Caroline’s present-tense voice, Callender draws readers in and makes them identify with Caroline’s angst and sorrow and joy and pain.
Embedding her appealing protagonist in a fully realized Caribbean setting, Callender has readers rooting for Caroline the whole way. (Fiction. 8-12)