In this keenly drawn family drama, Blue, sure that no one else still misses her twin, Iris, turns a camera on her workaholic parents, tempestuous older sister, Flora, and younger siblings Jasmine and Twig, the Babes, who entertain themselves with race-car–driving rats.
Blue captures the action in film transcripts and diary entries written in breathless, run-on sentences that reflect the family’s spinout. With their parents absent, possibly divorcing, their doctoral-student babysitter struggles to maintain control. Flora dyes her hair pink, the Babes get lost, and even Blue gets in trouble when a cute bad boy convinces her to seek revenge against a bully with a stunt involving the rats. A typical early adolescent, Blue has a sharp eye but is believably blind to everyone else’s sadness. As she comes to terms with her own grief, she grows ever more aware. But it takes another near tragedy to rally the family—although, as readers will have come to expect with this hapless crew, miscommunication and mayhem, even nature itself, almost keep them apart. With her first children’s book, Farrant has created a wounded, flawed cast of characters and depicts them with great compassion. The situations are a mix of hilariously funny and poignantly touching. Ultimately, loyalty, forgiveness and love reunite them, and the closing scene is lovely: The camera is turned on Blue, and readers see her laughing.
An uplifting, memorable read. (Fiction. 10-14)