Spending the summer with her incessantly bickering family on Gran's island in the northern Canadian wilderness, Lizzie McGill unravels the mystery of a ghost--one whose tragedy sheds understanding on her own family's unhappiness. Mother and Dad are both hard-driven lawyers who were never home much, so when Dad left two years ago it didn't make much difference to Lizzie--though her older brother's anger at being abandoned continues to poison his every word. Mother's anger is also unresolved; nevertheless, she has just married nice, easygoing Tim, who is now the target of all three kids' ill-humor. Meanwhile, Lizzie escapes by exploring the ruins of a cabin on Rain Island, where she finds an old pair of spectacles that allows her to see events of 60 years ago: a girl brought to spend the summer with the recluse who Lizzie learns is Frances Rain; the growing love between Frances and the girl; the girl's forcible removal by the stern, ugly man who seems to be her guardian--leaving behind a sketchbook that Lizzie is able to find and share with Frances on her deathbed before returning it to its original owner in its own time. A good sense of place and atmosphere; a first romance for Lizzie; the all-too-realistic family friction and its heartening, less-than-perfect resolution, as well as the satisfying ghost-cum-mystery tale that leads to present-day characters--all add up to an unusually entertaining first novel, already a Canadian award-winner.