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by Pat Schmatz

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8225-7268-8
Publisher: Carolrhoda

Eighth-grader Orithian Haley, nicknamed “Rith,” is an extremely sullen and resentful member of a blended family. He never knew his dad, who died when Rith was very young. Now his mother has remarried and has twin toddlers. Rith cannot stand his stepfather, Walt, with whom he has nothing in common. Walt makes everyone go to church, another mark against him in Rith’s book. Suddenly, an eerie noise begins waking up Rith in the middle of the night. Gathering his courage, he sees a wooden staircase that isn’t normally in the house. When he goes down, he sees an old man who quotes Biblical proverbs and a cat who guards the old man. Rith tries to understand what’s happening, whether he’s going crazy, could the man be God, etc. With the help of a new friend, he starts to puzzle it out. When the cat awakens him because his little sister has gone outside during a blizzard, Rith rescues her and the old man disappears for good. Rith finally demands the truth about his dad from his mom, but his stepfather is the one who thinks he deserves to know the unpleasant facts. This rhapsody on faith, acceptance, patience and the relationship between “truth” and “reality” is an unusual and valuable addition to the pantheon of literature for youth, particularly since faith is so seldom addressed with such neutrality in books for younger readers. (Fiction. 10-13)