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by Theresa Tomlinson

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7894-2459-2
Publisher: DK Publishing

 Ellen's mother has breast cancer, and Ellen (a British teenager), like her father and brother, is trying her very best to be supportive, even though her own worry is often overwhelming. Woven into the account of the mother's lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments is the story of the discovery of an ancient spring beneath a muddy, trash-strewn bank on the grounds of Ellen's school. Ellen and her best friend, Laura, begin helping Miss Corrigan, their history teacher (and, it turns out, a breast- cancer survivor), restore the site. ``Corrie'' believes that the site was once a sacred spot where travelers and those in search of healing drank and left offerings for ``Ellen of the Ways,'' a pagan goddess later identified with the Christian St. Helen. As her family copes with the ups and downs of the protracted cancer treatment, Ellen finds solace at the well. The book ends with a ceremony marking the restoration of the spring and a family holiday celebrating the end of the treatments--and the hope that Ellen's mother is well. Gracefully avoiding didacticism, Tomlinson (The Forestwife, 1995, etc.) makes regular reference to the many sources of healing, finding it not only in modern medicine, but in ancient wisdom, the mind and imagination, and in the love and support of family and friends. Readers will be borne along by the lively pace and the first-person, dialogue-heavy style. (Fiction. 10-14)