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In a fascinating departure from her usual folksy Southern fiction, award-winning author Kimberly Willis Holt transports her readers to the island of present-day Guam, where thirteen-year-old Isabels family is broken by her mothers suicide. Numbed by her mothers death, Isabel grimly plods through each day, while scribbling in her ever-present notebook. But existence on the colorful, richly cultured island hasnt ended, and life keeps interrupting Isabels sorrow. Her best friend Terecita needs help in becoming the best female cock-fighter on Guam, her fathers fishing assistant, Roman, appears to be flirting with her, and Auntie Bernadette, the local healer, keeps trying to school her in the art of herbs. Meanwhile, Isabel is disturbed by the fact that her father has practically stopped speaking, and her brother Frank is beginning to cut himself when he thinks no one is looking. But Isabel sees, and her heart is hardened: "I may look like my mother, but Im not like her...Im not like my mother at all. I am here." Isabels challenge will be to learn how to heal, and with the help of her vibrant community, she will. Holt is a masterful plotter--each strand of Isabels story comes together beautifully. But that doesnt mean Holt sacrifices description or character for storyline. Every nuance of the Guam landscape and culture is seen and heard, from the quirky native "eyebrow language," to the illegal thrill of cock fighting. An original and intriguing novel that will send students searching for Guam in the nearest atlas. (Ages 12 to 18) --Jennifer Hubert
Grade 5-8-Since her mother's suicide, 13-year-old Isabel Moreno cleans up after her 7-year-old sister and watches and worries about her 12-year-old brother, who spends his nights carving "I hate you" on his bedroom wall. Their fisherman father spends long hours on his boat and has no time for his family. Now, Isabel feels as if she can't remember her mother. No one at her Catholic school or in her small Guam village mentions her name except her Aunt Bernadette, who tries to interest her niece in entering the fiesta-queen contest that her mother won two years in a row. Her brother's collapse, on the day of the fiesta, finally drives the family to get the help they need to work their way out of their grief. Isabel, an aspiring writer, tells her story in short chapters, as if they were entries in a journal. She comes through as a thoroughly believable eighth grader, still in need of support from friends and family, but becoming aware of her distinctive interests and talents as well. A broad range of friends and family is equally believable and sympathetically portrayed. Readers are drawn into Isabel's world and her determination to keep on going in the face of her overwhelming loss and responsibilities. They will welcome the way the adults in her world finally intervene, allowing her to return to middle-school concerns. A beautifully written description of sorrow and recovery that should appeal to a wide audience.
Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Wow a terrific, well-told novel that captivates its audience. I downloaded a Chamorro translation book to read with this book because I cared that much about the characters. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Ila
This novel is very interesting. I had never read about Guam and This book was a wonderful introduction into the way of life of the inhabitants of the island nation. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Mayumi
I read Keeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt a while back but still remember it as if I read it yesterday. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sam Couture Reviews
Amazing, such a good book to get my hands onto. It was an easy fun read! Will definitely tell others about the bookPublished 19 months ago by Deni
The book was a little sad, but it would be an excellent read for advanced students and even adults will want to read it.Published on June 8, 2013 by Mellissa S Bonar
As with all of Ms Holt's books, this one is geared to the young readers on the cusp of young adult years. Read morePublished on May 6, 2013 by Debra K Brown
Isabel Moreno narrates the short, journal-like chapters. The 13-year-old's sadness, her sense of responsibility about all the terrible things that crash down on her family and the... Read morePublished on January 12, 2012 by southernwriter
The first pages were the perfect hook to get the reader instantly into the book when Isabel finds her mother's dead body. Read morePublished on September 18, 2011 by tjc3301
I wasn't a huge fan of this one, but I enjoyed the fact that the story took place on Guam. I rarely come across book that involve Guam. Read morePublished on July 10, 2009 by Jennelaine