From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up - Sixteen-year-old Nancy's family is odd. It's not that her mother is white and her father is black - she lives in New York, where biracial families are not uncommon. It's not even that her mother, a master weaver, is agoraphobic, or that her father moves out of their basement apartment every spring to live on a nearby rooftop. It's that her father produces sticky silk threads from his hands to help him travel Brooklyn by rooftop, and her mother comes from a line of powerful healers. So far, Nancy is neither spider nor healer, and she can't get her parents to tell her why. She meets strange, ghostly Dion as he balances on a high railing above the East River, and feels an obvious connection. Their families have more in common than they know, and the author unravels this web of connections one deliberate and deftly foreshadowed thread at a time. Young's prose is simple and graceful, and her depictions, including several freakishly authentic New York neighborhoods, are subtly drawn. Nancy's struggle with spider/human identity is as touching and real as any coming of age: thoughtful, earnest, and more innocent than her urban upbringing might suggest. To sustain mystery, Young drops otherworldly details into an otherwise realistic story, to the temporary confusion of readers and, often, to the protagonist as well. While this might frustrate those unwilling to suspend disbelief, adventurous readers will gladly put the pieces of family history and personal destiny together as Nancy does. - Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
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Gr. 9-12. Brooklyn teenager Nancy has an unusual dilemma: "No spinnerets inside her, no silk." She descends from a "peculiar family" whose arachnid genes give rise to spidery specialties: her Scottish-Italian mother weaves; her Jamaican father applies his uncanny climbing abilities to a career in roofing; her maternal grandmother uses her cobweb silk to heal wounds. But not a hint of spiderness emerges from Nancy. Feeling suffocated by her hovering family, she becomes increasingly interested in Dion, a runaway whose knowing gaze is both disturbing and compelling. Young's novel forms a literal web of connections--from a blackmail scheme that involves both Nancy's and Dion's families to the evil-averting Angel of Brooklyn, a real-life superhero whose identity is an ongoing puzzle. Some readers may be mystified by the story strands' refusal to braid neatly together; others, especially teens of an artistic, assertively alternative stripe, will happily immerse themselves in the poetic, free-associative narrative, and the imaginative, comic book-inspired premise. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved