Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose, mute since her mother's murder 11 years ago, finds her voice again.
After her prostitute mother's body is found frozen in a snowbank, with her own not-quite-lifeless body nearby, little Sadie Rose is taken in by the mayor of Rainy Lake, Minn., a boisterous frontier town. When she recovers she is unable to speak. Casanova's novel begins 11 years later, with Sadie Rose chafing under life with her foster parents, who, though wealthy and generous, hold themselves distant. Sadie Rose accidently finds photographs of a woman she recognizes as her mother, which sets off a cascade of memories that leads to her recovering her voice. She runs away to learn the truth about her past and discovers a sense of personal power. In the beginning, Sadie's character is hard to understand—she seems immature and fretful rather than haunted. It's not clear whether her muteness is physical or psychological, and the suddenness with which she returns to speech seems artificial. Her foster father is a caricature of self-importance; some of the supporting characters, also, seem too quick to become intimate and spill their secrets. In effect, the puzzle is too easy to solve, but the story becomes more compelling and believable once Sadie Rose leaves home. Period and place are well-portrayed.
A good effort, but not compelling enough to capture many teen readers. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)