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Mistik Lake (Melanie Kroupa Books) Hardcover – August 21, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Brooks's (True Confessions of a Heartless Girl) keenly observed novel interweaves the lives of three generations of women overshadowed by secrets. While the narrative focuses on Odella, whose mother leaves the family (and the country) with a lover, then unexpectedly dies, the author also rotates through the perspectives of other characters. It falls to Odella's great-aunt Gloria as much as to Odella, the oldest of three sisters, to give readers a sense of Sally, Odella's guilt-ridden mother. Mistik Lake plays an important role: Sally alone survived a tragic accident on the lake as a teenager, and the small Canadian community, where both Gloria and Sally grew up, serves as the backdrop for the major revelations in the book. Readers may have trouble tracking all the ways various characters connect; the grandfather of Odella's first love, Jimmy, tells her, We are all related, one way or another, if you go far enough back, and it certainly seems to be the case given how the characters' histories intersect. But all of the characters seem distinct and real, thanks to the author's exceptional skill with details (Odella watches Jimmy's grandmother prepare breakfast: She begins to move around her kitchen—silently, like a ship with sails. I can see the ancestors in her face). Everyone suffers, but the momentum remains steady and, in the end, it is the author's ability to convey the characters' love for one another, as complicated as it often is, that floats to the top. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
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From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—In a prologue, readers learn that in 1981, three teenagers died while joyriding on frozen Mistik Lake in Manitoba. Sally was the sole survivor. The story then alternates between Odella, Sally's oldest daughter, beginning when she is nine; Sally's Aunt Gloria, Odella's beloved great-aunt; and, later, Odella's boyfriend, Jimmy. Summers are spent at Mistik Lake, where Gloria has a cottage that she never uses. There, Odella, a perceptive girl, becomes attuned to her mother's sadness and alcoholism. Sally leaves her husband and daughters for an Icelandic filmmaker when Odella is 15, and the devastated family struggles to function without her. However, they continue to vacation at the lake, where Odella meets Jimmy, leading to a romance that helps sustain her in the aftermath of her mother's sudden death. Much of the mood is pensive as characters suffer but eventually break through. Gloria, whose homosexuality has been kept a secret, eventually brings her partner to meet Sally's girls; and Odella starts to forgive her mother and begin an adult life. Jumps back and forth in time and perspective make reading somewhat bewildering at times, but they do allow more intimate characterization. Smooth writing contributes much to a story that will enable readers to care about Odella's coming of age. Readers seeking a love story situated in family difficulties will find a realistic choice here.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Series: Melanie Kroupa Books
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374349851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374349851
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,270,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 1morechapter.com on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks is about a Canadian teenage girl who is trying to cope with a myriad of issues. One of Odella's parents struggles with alcoholism and abandons the family. Odella, the oldest of her siblings, tries to maintain order for the rest of her household while also dealing with the typical trials of the teenage years.

While I did enjoy certain aspects of the story, particularly the discussions on the characters' Icelandic heritage, I'm afraid this book suffers from what I call `everything AND the kitchen sink' syndrome. With themes of guilt, identity, alcoholism, abandonment, and homosexuality -- just to name a few, this book just had too much going on with the story in order for it not to feel a bit contrived. I just really believe that young adult novels, particularly short ones, are more effective when they deal with only one or two major issues. That is probably just a personal preference, though. Your mileage may vary.
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Format: Hardcover
"Love is an unreasonable thing -- that's something else she'd like to tell her grand-nieces back in Winnipeg. You can't predict who you'll fall in love with. Of course you can live a lie, and not follow your heart, and suffer secretly."

When, as a guy reader, I find a beautifully-written book about three interconnected generations of women with their stories of love, losses, family connections, and long-held secrets to be a totally compelling read, to be a book that demands an immediate second read, and to unquestionably be one of the YA highlights of the current year, then you've got to figure that it is one heck of a book.

In fact, I am so in love with MISTIK LAKE that I am skeptical of my ability to overstate the case for reading and sharing this stunning book.

"I don't say anything more to them. Just lie there being the filling in this sister sandwich. It's great to be here again."

Time and again I found myself laughing with total delight as the strands of story, which crisscross several time periods between the 1940's and the early twenty-first century, flow so effortlessly into one another and reveal all of the interconnectedness -- for better or worse -- that revolves around a little lake community whose name is a Cree word meaning "wood."

"Memories of every summer spent at Mistik Lake come flooding back as I give this old man my hand. He takes it, pulls me into his arms, and clasps me in a ferocious hug.
" 'Welcome, welcome, welcome!' he cries. 'Come in and meet Lilja. She's made you coffee! And cake!'
"As I'm ushered into the house I give a backward glace at Jimmy, who throws up his hands with a smile.
"His grandmother, a tiny woman, pats my hand, beaming, too, as I take her in -- her large ocean-colored eyes.
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Format: Hardcover
For some people, the times in their lives in which everything finally comes together are the same times that everything falls apart.

Meet Odella, a teenage girl whose family is drowning in secrets. Odella and her two sisters are adjusting to the fact that their mother has abandoned them to move to Iceland with another man. Now they are faced with their mother's death. Odella must now deal with questions about her mother that may remain unanswered. Why did her mother drink so much? What really happened during that accident at Mistik Lake when her mother was a teenager? Why doesn't her Aunt Gloria visit anymore? And why is it that everyone in Mistik Lake and Manitoba seem to know the answers to Odella's questions?

Odella's life isn't all bad. There is Jimmy Tomasson, the boy Odella met last summer. Jimmy has come back into her life and Odella is thrilled to have him. But even Jimmy seems to know more about Odella than she does.

MISTIK LAKE is the story of two generations of family and the secrets they share. Author Martha Brooks tells the story through the viewpoint of three different characters: Odella, Aunt Gloria, and Jimmy. This compelling story will pull you along, tempting you with the promise of tantalizing secrets. More than that, Mistik Lake demonstrates how far the damage from those secrets can reach.

Reviewed by: JodiG.
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