This book presents a challenge for inexperienced readers, an ending that may disappoint some, and a unique and fascinating literary creation that flows like a page-turner.
Some things about E.L. Konigsburg never change. She has a profound respect for the intelligence of her characters, who are nearly always brilliant, quirky, and mature children, determined to hold on to their individuality in the face of a conformist society. She also respects the intelligence of her audience and, while she does sometimes preach, she never talks down to them or dumbs down her writing or ideas.
This respect for her audience has led her to experiment in her last few novels with increasingly complex structures, and that is certainly evident here. Margaret, the narrator as well as heroine, leaps around in time and space with gleeful abandon, and hunks of chapters are headed with bits of quotes from characters earlier in the story. There are parallels between different parts of the story, literary and historical references, and characters who pop in and out and in again. After the disappointment of Silent to the Bone, it's great to see Konigsburg back in top form.