A city girl from Queens, New York, is thrust into the slowed-down homeyness of a small North Carolina town in 1972, but the summer she fears will drag on intolerably soon turns into the mystery of a missing penny and an unknown killer.
When Lizbeth rides her bike to the bridge, she feels the thrill of adventure. A car has gone over it; someone has died. But seeing the dead man's hand flutter lifelessly and learning that a baby has also died, Lizbeth feels the thrill morph into sickness. So begins Lizbeth's quest to discover the origins of the rare 1909 wheat penny that the dying man clung to as he and his baby plunged to their deaths. Melvin’s tale of mystery opens with action, but then the story veers from murder to explore the thornier mysteries of human relationships. As a character, Lizbeth Landers is a spunky girl whose take on life is both illuminating and familiar. With a strong supporting cast that includes her aunt Alice and the new widow Miss Violet, she navigates the tricky waters of long-buried secrets while also learning something about what it means to be part of a community. While the slow pace might deter some younger readers, the beautiful phrasing will help to capture more sophisticated ones.
A smart, funny pleasure, as satisfying as sipping lemonade on the front porch with a favorite grandparent. (Mystery. 10-14)