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by Nora Martin

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-590-36087-6
Publisher: Scholastic

 From the first sentence of this unusual novel--``A year ago my world was water''--narrated by a half-Irish and half-Tlingit Indian 12-year-old, readers will be drawn to the poetic language, the promise of a compelling plot, and a hint of mystery. Set in the 1940s, the story opens as Clearie's cold and uncommunicative father sends her to Alaska to live for a time with relatives she's never met. Abandoned by her mother at age five, and accustomed to taking care of herself, Clearie quickly decides to remain as ice to a family member who has offended her, and hardly warmer to the rest, who seem to have plans to initiate her into the old Tlingit ways. Clearie acclimates herself and begins to function with those her age, but she also unintentionally becomes embroiled in a dangerous association with the most evil person in the tiny, isolated town. Readers sense danger developing before Clearie does, and also witness the budding romance between her and a town boy, which has its small and old-fashioned but significant joys. Through careful pacing and lyrical writing, Martin (The Stone Dancers, 1995, etc.) effortlessly develops many vital characters, but never neglects Clearie, who adapts, thrives, and finally takes great satisfaction in her ancestral identity. A suspenseful page-turner as well as a joyous exploration of a unique world in a remote setting. (Fiction. 10-14)