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PINE ISLAND VISITORS by Polly Horvath Kirkus Star


by Polly Horvath

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 2023
ISBN: 9780823452958
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Uninvited guests demand new survival skills from the McCready sisters in this follow-up to Pine Island Home (2020).

The school year is about to start when Mrs. Weatherspoon, who cared for the girls in Borneo after their parents’ death, comes to visit, upsetting the equilibrium. She arrives with another church lady, Jo Menzies, and everyone soon finds themselves towed along in Jo’s manipulative, overbearing wake. At 15, Fiona can’t relinquish the burden of being in charge of her family, shying away from their guardian Al’s willingness to pay for things. Thirteen-year-old Marlin has yet to realize her ambition to publish her cookbook. Ten-year-old Natasha’s contemplative approach to understanding the world manifests itself in a surprising way. And 8-year-old Charlie has an optimistic naïveté in the face of all this fierce independence. Jo is self-absorbed and almost comically evil in her disregard for everyone but herself. Horvath skewers those who try to wield power over others, using diet or religion or opinions as cudgels. As frustrated Fiona and Marlin find themselves feeling impotent rage, they also gain an understanding of what it means to be—and stand up for—oneself. Everyone presents as white. Horvath keeps the pace captivating in this domestic drama as she demonstrates that life’s ups and downs are inevitable. Neither certainty nor confirmation of beliefs is forthcoming—there are few comeuppances for bad behavior—but what emerges is a compelling case for self-reliance, creativity, and kindness.

Terrifically entertaining.

(Fiction. 10-14)