A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
Holt's gentle prose, along with the somewhat dark and affecting subject matter, will not be to every young reader's taste. There's little action, and though the writing is simple, direct, and clear, the short, journal-like chapters make keeping track of the narrative a challenge for inexperienced readers. But children with a taste for stepping into another world will find Isabel a sympathetic character, and the setting unique and vivid.
In a series of short chapters, Isabel tells of the months following her mother's suicide. It's left to Isabel to take care of her disturbed siblings and to try to understand why her mother didn't want to live. Lest this sound like all gloom and doom, though, Isabel's difficulties weave through a life that, while not exotic, is different enough to be fascinating. Kimberly Willis Holt details the rituals, family relationships, foods, and festivals of small-town Guam, and Isabel befriends an American girl whose life and attitudes are contrasted with Isabel's.