From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–After the death of her grandmother, 15-year-old Liz Scattergood is having a hard time getting back to normal. Her mother, who had an extremely close relationship with Bunny, has become deeply depressed, and only visits to a Spiritualist church whose members believe they can communicate with the deceased provide any comfort. Lizs atheist father disapproves, causing anger and tension between him and his wife, and leaving Liz caught in the middle. The new boy who moves in across the street could be a welcome distraction, but he has only come to town to live with his cranky grandmother because his own mother is dying. Comfortable pacing and natural dialogue keep readers engaged in the predominantly emotional action of the story. Wittlinger has created realistic and sympathetic teenage characters whose struggles with grief, love, and faith have no easy answers.–Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, North Hollywood
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Gr. 7-10. Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth has always envied the bond that her distracted, artistic mother shared with Elizabeth's grandmother, Bunny, and wonders, "How come I wasn't part of this chain of mother-daughter best friends too?" Then Bunny dies, and Elizabeth feels even more shut out as her mother sinks into a consuming grief. Only visits to a nearby spiritualist church, where members claim to channel the dead, seem to cheer Liz's mom, but the church brings increasing friction with Liz's atheist dad. A fragile romance with Nathan, her new 16-year-old neighbor, helps Liz begin to talk about her complicated feelings. Once again, Wittlinger brings readers right into a teen's roiling emotional life with sensitive, skillful descriptions, written in Liz's voice, of how feelings register: Liz understands Nathan's sadness in his "low-key, no-wattage, half smile" and her mother's grief in the lost energy that leaks "like air from a knifed tire." Not all characters, including Liz's mother, feel fully developed, but the precisely observed, palpable moments and provocative questions about faith make a memorable story. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved