From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10?As long as she possibly can, 14-year-old Melanie pretends that nothing is wrong with her mother. However, as Huntington's Chorea (now called HD, Huntington's Disease) progresses, causing spasmodic movement, dementia, and erratic behavior, Melanie can't ignore the crisis. Her father, remote and involved in his work, sees nothing. After her mother's diagnosis, she fears that she will inherit the terminal, genetically carried disease. She turns to faith and solitude, and from that point, the plot is developed mostly internally. Some of the characters are memorable, especially Melanie, tortured and alone, and Miss Rosilda, the fortune-teller who provides comfort though she can't really see the future. In the final chapters, Melanie's father acknowledges the importance of their small family. Finally, Melanie steps from the shadows to feel love and empathy for her institutionalized mother and to accept the future. Told with first-person immediacy, the narrative is realistic and the language is sometimes rhythmic. Detail suggests that the story is set in a middle-American mill town sometime in the middle of the century, and the flavor of a tight community is well captured. An author's note about HD is appended. The themes of this title, the damage of prejudice, awareness of HD, and the importance of caring, are valuable. Readers will be engaged by the plot and characters and learn a bit along the way.?Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 8^-12. Huntington's chorea, or Saint Vitus' dance, a progressive dementia that eventually kills the sufferer, is the diagnosis as Melanie's mother slips further into madness. In spite of the family's prominent standing in the community, Melanie must endure the whispers of the adults, the mimics of the children, and a guilty fear that she is carrying a genetic time bomb within. Rubalcaba writes beautifully, so beautifully that we almost forget to care about Melanie. Yet, Melanie's struggle to reassure herself that she does not carry the terrifying gene, and her inner battle to love rather than hate her mother, whom she misses so much, eventually ring true. The self-absorbed adolescent as well as the self-absorbed husband and father finally nurture the woman who had nurtured them, and both begin to heal themselves. Frances Bradburn