From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–7—This is Horvath's most luminescent, beautifully written novel yet. Jane Fielding lives what seems to be an idyllic life with her poet mother and three younger siblings in a house on the beach in coastal Massachusetts, where they gather mussels, pick berries to eat, and lay in the warm tidal pools. But at 12, Jane no longer wants every summer to be exactly the same. She prays for adventures, 100 of them, and gets 14, each of which gives her insights into understanding herself. She delivers Bibles from a hijacked hot-air balloon, is tricked into babysitting for the five messy Gourd children, is fleeced by a fortune-teller, and meets several men who could be her father. Horvath's latest offering certainly has some eccentric, unforgettable characters and some dark humor and irony. Yet the author has significantly mellowed in this quieter work, which will have wider kid-appeal. Indeed, it is Jane's honest, clear voice—that of a young girl on the natural cusp of separating from her family—that drives the story and engages readers. The author is a gifted writer, a word alchemist. She has an eye for exposing the miraculous in the mundane. The book is filled with pithy observations and memorable passages that invite immediate rereading and admiration. This is Horvath at the top of her game, and that's saying something.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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*Starred Review* Jane, 12, longs for adventures, maybe a hundred of them. Not too much happens at the beach where she lives with her younger siblings and her mother, a poet with a fondness for putting up jam. As the summer slips by, adventures do find Jane—but they come with people attached. Her newfound relationship with preacher Nellie leads to a trip in a hot-air balloon and a foray into the world of healings and psychic revelations. Mrs. Parks’ thrombosis (or is it bursitis?) and a desire to get to California result in an all-night automobile ride that ends because Mrs. Parks’ bottom gets sore. And throughout the summer there’s a procession of possible fathers: the free spirit, the poet, the Santa look-alike, the man in a suit who gets tossed in the ocean by a whale. With writing as foamy as waves, as gritty as sand, or as deep as the sea, this book may startle readers with the freedom given the heroine—independence that allows her to experience, think about, and come to some hard-won conclusions about life. Sometimes Jane’s duped, sometimes she’s played; but if hope fades, it returns, and adventure still beckons. Unconventionality is Horvath’s stock in trade, but here the high quirkiness quotient rests easily against Jane’s inner story with its honest, childlike core. Grades 4-6. --Ilene Cooper