Keeper of the Night



Girl's story following mother's suicide.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Illegal cockfighting


None None


References to an illegitimate pregnancy and a boy who wants to unzip his pants.



Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drugs and alcohol referred to but not described. Some smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite the subject matter, this is not a wrenching book -- poignant, but not devastating. The idea of parent suicide will be disturbing to some children, and discussion with a parent is recommended.

What's the story?

In a series of short chapters, some only a few lines long, Isabel, a native of Guam, tells of the months following her mother's suicide. Holt's prose is fluid, and her treatment of the aftermath of suicide is sensitive and realistic.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between Isabel and Mary Kelly. How do their cultural backgrounds influence who they are? How are they similar?

Book details

Author:Kimberly Willis Holt
Genre:Family Life
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
Publication date:May 1, 2003
Number of pages:308

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byewickham April 9, 2008
Adult Written byPrincess916 April 9, 2008

A great read!

I just finished this book and i think its a GREAT read!!! I am also a native from Guam (born and raised!) and Kimberly H. just captures the life of it. Not only does she tell true stories/myths from Guam but she shows the everyday life of ppl there--how they talk, eat, act, the places, the tourists.. I was so amazed by this book! i dont know--if you are from Guam, read this book and you'll understand what im talking about!
Teen, 16 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008


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