An almost 12-year-old girl tries to distinguish herself from her five boisterous siblings in a very quiet coming-of-age tale.
Eland (Scones and Sensibility, 2010) has crafted another thoughtful, slow-paced, character-driven story. The experience of being accidentally left behind at a service station as her family makes the trip to a small Pennsylvania town, where her father has been rehabbing the library, perfectly sums up for Sunday the position she holds: She’s always hidden by the crowd. When her family returns a couple of hours later, not because they noticed her missing but because they lost their way, it reinforces her need to find a way to stand out among her siblings. Discovery of an old manuscript in the library cellar, possibly penned by an iconic and reclusive author, might provide the path to fame. Sunday, a strong reader who celebrates the value of good books, teams up with Jude, a sensitive local boy, to investigate the growing evidence that the story is somehow linked to an infamously withdrawn local man, Ben. Sunday’s competent, low-key parents and realistically depicted, lively siblings are lovingly portrayed and may amuse readers growing up in more typical small families.
Still, for many who pick it up, well-developed characters and a mild mystery may not be enough to sustain interest in this overlong effort. (Fiction. 10-14)