Synopses & Reviews
A remarkably moving, large-hearted child's eye novel of friendship, illness, and coming together by acclaimed singer-songwriter Dar Williams.
Amalee's world is all out of order. She's used to chaos, because of the frequent presence of her father's bantering, bickering group of fun friends. But when Amalee's dad becomes seriously ill, the chaos takes new forms -- and the ways of coping come from some very unexpected places.
With clear-eyed, tender, funny prose, Dar Williams gives us a child's eye view of a world under pressure, with everyone rising to the occasion in his or her own unique way. Both moving and wise, this marks the debut of a major middle-grade talent.
"Singer-songwriter Williams makes her children's book debut with a novel that unfortunately seems to share some of the awkward growing pains of its tween protagonist. Eleven-year-old Amalee has grown used to her unusual extended family the four tighter-than-siblings college friends of her father, David. Since Amalee's mother died when she was just a baby, David and 'the gang' have rallied, each armed with their own special skill, to give Amalee a fully rounded life. But things aren't going according to plan as Amalee starts middle school with nary a friend her own age in sight. And when her father falls seriously ill, Amalee feels like unraveling, too, until she grows to appreciate her father's pals for who they really are and how much they love her. Williams's premise is ripe with dramatic opportunity. However, she spends so much time creating a cast of slightly quirky players that the emotional undercurrent gets a bit diluted. As a result, readers may be taken with some of Amalee's quiet yet keen observations about her father and his friends, and then feel disappointed at the end when they realize that they have learned surprisingly little about Amalee herself. A couple of subplots devolve into clichs and, in what many readers may find frustrating, David's diagnosis/illness is never revealed or explained, other than to tell Amalee he has 'something like the flu, but it's in his spine.' Williams's fans will likely want to explore this departure, but will find that it lacks the storytelling flair of her songs. Ages 9-14. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)