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THE WOMAN IN THE WALL by Patrice Kindl

THE WOMAN IN THE WALL

By Patrice Kindl

Age Range: 10 - 15

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-83014-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Kindl (Owl in Love, 1993), who brought readers an unforgettable, offbeat protagonist in her first novel, does it again in this not-quite fantasy. Anna is such a shy child that she is almost invisible--"I'm small and thin, with a face like a glass of water. And I like to hide.'' Her mother and sisters find it hard to see or hear her, and her father "faded out'' of their lives years before. The concept of school, other children, the outside (asking her to leave the house was "like asking me to strip off my very skin''), and a terrifying (and hilarious) visit from the school psychologist send Anna into hiding for good, in the nooks and crannies of the family's rambling Victorian home. Anna, good with tools and her hands, literally walls herself off, peering at her family through peepholes and coming out only when they are all asleep. She hides for years, until her mother and sisters almost forget she really exists. Then comes puberty, and with it, all the inchoate longings of adolescence. Teenage agony is full-blown: the complete self-involvement; the terror of rejection; the recoiling at physical changes (she is dumbfounded when she develops breasts); the certain knowledge that no one has ever felt the way she feels. How Anna finds herself and her family again is a tour de force of extraordinary power and wicked humor. Kindl bends the prism of loss and isolation until the clear colors of self shine forth, for Anna, and for enthralled readers. (Fiction. 10-15)