Sally Miyake is a 19-year-old woman who tells readers, “I can’t read, but I see, I hear, and I notice things.”
She lives in Sunnyside Plaza, a group home for developmentally disabled adults of all ages and abilities. The staff members are dedicated to providing physical and emotional care as well as a bit of independence and responsibility. The residents have difficulties understanding concepts such as death or the passage of time. But they accept one another’s strengths and weaknesses, valuing kindness above all. Sally proudly works in the kitchen under the direction of Conrad, doing small but necessary chores. When one of her family of friends dies from a stroke, detectives Bridges and Rivas are called to investigate. They soon come to admire Sally’s directness and warm heart, and they become part of her life outside the investigation. Sally uses her observational skills to try to understand what has happened, actually cracking the case when she learns that someone who has been trusted is not trustworthy. Supporting characters are presented with love and appreciation for their best qualities. Sally’s challenges are part and parcel of her shining humanity, and readers will come to love her. Naming conventions and descriptions indicate wide diversity, but Sally’s implied Japanese heritage plays no part in the story.
A tender insight into being different and wonderful. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-14)