A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids may enjoy rereading this book and trying to deduce what's real from what's not.
Coming-of-age messages as Joelle begins to explore her past and learn about her identity.
Positive Role Models
Joelle and Carlos cope with their pain through a friendship with each other.
Violence & Scariness
It is loosely implied that a mother commits suicide by jumping out of a building with her ill baby daughter rather than let her die in the hospital. Some mildly creepy scenes in the forest. Suffering of the Narragansett people in a long ago massacre and Joelle's foster mother tells her at one point she lived with a crazy woman who mistreated her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Uncle Vernon has an illegitimate child.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the book raises coming-of-age themes as Joelle begins to explore her past and learn about her identity. It mentions some difficult issues, including suicide, illegitimacy, and family secrets. There is a boy/ girl friendship at its heart, and Joelle and Carlos cope with their pain through a friendship with each other. It has some magical elements, and kids may enjoy rereading this book and trying to deduce what's real from what's not.
Is It Any Good?
This book is slower and more thoughtful than many of Jane Taylor Lisle's others, and only patient, experienced readers are likely to be drawn in. Lisle specializes in two themes: the hint, usually unexplained, of fantasy or the supernatural in everyday life, and shifting perspectives that keep both characters and readers guessing about what's true and what isn't. Both are at play here.
It's a mystery of sorts, and discovering the truth will keep some readers turning the pages. Others will find the lack of action or vibrant characters dull. It has its moments, but it lacks the visionary lyricism of Lisle's best work.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.