From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A sensitively written verse novel about loss. Sara's mother was killed in an automobile accident and the girl's difficulty of coping with the catastrophic void echoes throughout. The 12-year-old longs for information about her mother, but her father can't talk about her. A kitten is an anonymous gift from one of her father's college students. Its warmth and gentleness fill Sara with comfort and love. Without explanation, her father adamantly insists that Serendipity must go. Sara contrives to keep it for a week, confident that this will lead to a permanent arrangement. At the story's start, she is rehearsing to play Wendy in a school production of Peter Pan. She is a well-drawn, multidimensional character with a crush on Garrett, who is cast as Peter, and a best friend. When she is felled by a virus, her understudy gets to play opposite Garrett. Mrs. Whittier, a nurturing neighbor who knows about Sara's parents, often cares for her and tries to ease her pain. Sara must look for information about her family for a school assignment, but her father has hidden many pictures, making her feel that her family is lost. In desperation, she sneaks around and eventually the story unfolds a bit at a time. Serendipity helps her father open up. The verse form makes every word important, and Roth skillfully uses figurative language, poetry, and familiar literary works. This is a compassionately told tale, reminiscent in tone of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (HarperCollins, 1977) and Cynthia Rylant's Missing May (Orchard, 1991).-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
A little white kitten brings big changes in sixth-grader Sara’s life. In this debut novel, written in thoughtful verse, Sara has grown up in the shadow of her mother’s death, her father’s emotional withdrawal, and the fact that cats are forbidden in the house. When the flu causes her to miss out on playing Wendy in the school production of Peter Pan—and a possible connection with fellow cast member Garrett—an empathetic babysitter leaves a kitten on Sara’s doorstep. The tween has one week to convince her father to break his no-cats rule and let her keep the kitten, aptly named Serendipity. In the process, Sara begins to question the origin of the no-cats rule. A slow, bittersweet accumulation of details about her mother’s death, as well as her life and loves and the subsequent reactions of Sara’s father, brings much needed closure and a renewed closeness to this broken family. Although the story is predictable, Roth welcomes readers with spot-on depictions of kitten antics and feelings common to middle-schoolers. Grades 4-7. --Angela Leeper