From Publishers Weekly
Like Marsden's Letters from the Inside, this engrossing Australian novel features a tough teenage heroine and puzzles aplenty. Sixteen-year-old Winter returns to Warriewood, her late parents' estate, under circumstances that only gradually become clear. Winter, sharp-tongued and iron-willed, has refused to stay any longer with the Robinsons, her guardians for the past 12 years. "Something had always bothered me," she explains, "Some nagging thought deep in my mind had never been satisfied." She quickly uncovers signs of misdoings: the family house is empty of all its expensive furniture and the well-paid caretakers have allowed the property to deteriorate. The heroine soon learns that the story the Robinsons have told her, about her parents dying together while racing a yacht, is false. Her father died in the race, but her mother, an expert sportswoman, died six months later, under mysterious circumstances. Winter's determination to solve the riddle of her mother's death drives her on, even as the people she meets seem equally determined to conceal something from her. Improbable as much of the premise seems, Marsden's slow, teasing exposition will very likely lure readers further into the story to keep pace with the unstoppable Winter. The knockout punch Marsden delivers here may not have the lasting impact of his clincher in Letters, but it will certainly satisfy the expectations raised by the taut plot. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-The Australian ranch setting of this John Marsden title (Scholastic, 2002) is brought to life through Kate Hosking's excellent narration. She makes 16-year-old Winter introspective, analytical, temperamental, and conversational by turns, all with a Down Under accent that lends credence and appeal to the story. Orphaned at age four, Winter has lived in Canberra with her mother's distant step-sister and her husband, who developed no real connection to Winter. By acting out her game plan, Winter is finally able to return to the bush and Warriewood, the beloved cattle ranch to which she is sole heir. Once there, casual revelations about the circumstances of her parents' deaths intertwine with discoveries about the condition of the homeplace and ranch. Winter demonstrates her perseverance, perceptiveness, and steely resemblance to her legendary mother while setting matters right on the ranch and beginning to make friends in the district. Her discovery of a great-aunt about whom she knew nothing becomes the dominant puzzle and key to secrets of the past . Hosking paints Winter as both larger than life and down-to-earth at the same time, experiencing normal teenage crises in this rather exotic setting while handling major events in a mature manner. Reluctant readers, those looking for a strong female character, and listeners interested in this different way of life will be attracted to this title.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY
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