A summer in Manhattan unites an orphaned girl with an uncle she barely knows.
Twelve-year-old Evangeline, better known as Evie, finds herself transplanted from Ireland to America after her mother’s death. Specifically, she finds herself living with her uncle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the summer, with the option of returning to Ireland in the fall. Her uncle is a veterinarian with a practice that caters to quirky Manhattanites and their assorted, often odd pets. Evie loves animals and helping out. She makes new friends; coincidentally, they are adoptees. On the downside, Uncle Scott has a snooty, scheming lawyer girlfriend who sees Evie as a threat to the relationship. Evie tells her story in a first-person narration that is long on verbose descriptions and brand-name–dropping but short on emotional content. Agnew populates her tale with cardboard stock characters, animals, places, and situations. Readers will find it a challenge to connect with Evie, despite her memories of shared times with her beloved mother. The appearance of a surprise visitor on the next-to-last page feels like a cheat.
A predictable plot and poor character development squash this outing. (Fiction. 9-12)