Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The length, type size, and vocabulary might make this book a good fit for reluctant teen readers, who will be mature enough to handle the subject matter and understand the unusual storytelling.
This book encourages teen readers to think about some big issues such as racism and abuse.
Positive Role Models
Pearl may cut class and keep quiet when she sees Mary being attacked, but she ultimately does befriend the elderly woman. Her brother does his best to protect her.
Violence & Scariness
Frankie confronts his father with a baseball bat. A person is run over by a train. An attempted suicide. It's implied that Pearl's father molests her.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frankie spies on his sister and a friend taking a bath.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the length, type size, and vocabulary make this look like a book for younger children, but the content issues may be confusing at best to the elementary school set. This is a better fit for teens, perhaps particularly reluctant readers mature enough to handle the subject matter and understand the unusual storytelling. This book will encourage teen readers to think about some big issues, such as racism and abuse.
Is It Any Good?
In his Acknowledgments the author says it took him 30 years to get this story right; perhaps he should have waited a bit longer. While the basic story is intriguing, the telling is all over the map. There's a hint of magic at the beginning that is never followed up or even mentioned again, a hint of ghosts at the end that comes out of nowhere, intimations of incest that are never resolved, some halfhearted stabs at comedy, and plot elements that disappear like a pebble in a murky pond.
There are some terrific elements here: a beautiful, eerie nighttime skating scene, a stalwart and appealing younger brother, and a fluid writing style that keeps the pages turning even when what's happening doesn't make a lot of sense. It seems the author never quite figured out what he wanted this story to be. This is James VanOosting's second book for children; the first, The Last Payback, was a gem with a strong voice that showed tremendous promise. We'll just have to wait for that promise to be fulfilled.
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.