BELOW by Meg McKinlay


Age Range: 9 - 12
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A 12-year-old girl discovers a town secret hidden under thousands of gallons of water in this earnest, thematically rich exploration of the relationship between history and truth.

Cassie Romano was the first baby to be born in the town of New Lower Grange, which replaced Old Lower Grange when Mayor Finkle “flipped the lever” turning the old town into an artificial lake and dam site. Since she was little, Cassie has been fascinated by the drowned town, which, together with New Lower Grange, is about to celebrate its centennial. Cassie’s much older sister is making the celebration’s centenary book, which Cassie feels whitewashes history, as it only shows the positive side of the changeover. Narrated in the first person by its likable protagonist, this quirky but thoughtful not-quite-mystery teams Cassie with Liam, a boy with an unfortunate personal history of his own. Together, the two kids swim on the side of the lake that is closed to the public, where dropping water levels reveal hazy but tantalizing impressions of Old Lower Grange. Although the author does a masterful job of making sure all the pieces fit at the end, the central mystery is hard to buy. This is mitigated by a reasonably suspenseful climax, an earned family solidarity message and the lesson: that to find the truth, one must delve below the surface.

A quietly intriguing meditation on history and truth. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6126-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013


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