From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7–Tess Brooks, 11, believes in luck, wishes, and superstitions. When the state of Maine threatens to close her Bethsaida Island school because there aren't enough students, she and her family will be forced to move to the mainland, and Tess loves her island life. Reverend Beal comes up with an idea to expand the school population, and the Brooks family does its part by taking in a 13-year-old foster child. Tess doesn't give up hope even though Aaron is unhappy on the island and longs to return to his mother. Tess grows significantly throughout the novel as she learns that things don't always go according to a plan, but that they still have the capability of working out. Each chapter opens with a different saying that is used in the context of the story, which keeps readers guessing about its significance. They will feel an enormous amount of hope as they read Tess and Aaron's story. It delivers the message that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes all you need to do is believe.Rebecca Webster, Warren County Middle School, Front Royal, VA
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Eleven-year-old Tess doesn’t want to leave her island home, but her family will have to move to the mainland if the state of Maine closes their small schoolhouse for lack of students. To increase their numbers, several families take in foster children, and so 13-year-old musician Aaron, who has bounced around since his grandmother’s death because his mother is an alcoholic, comes to stay with Tess’ family. Tess pins all her hopes on Aaron, but he is not at all what she expected: he doesn’t like reading, he throws up on her dad’s lobster boat, and he’d rather stay in his room than play Monopoly. Each chapter title is a folk saying that superstitious Tess follows as she wishes and schemes a way for Aaron to love island life. Aaron’s relationship with his foster family, particularly with impulsive Tess, develops believably. The tight-knit community and lobster-catching details make for a warm, colorful environment. This is a feel-good story about letting go of your expectations and accepting the good things already in front of you. Grades 4-7. --Krista Hutley