Synopses & Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Odella is haunted by family secrets. Why doesn't her great-aunt Gloria visit anymore? Why does her mother, Sally, drink so much? Sally's tragic car accident on a frozen lake when she was sixteen seems to have cast a spell over her life that no one can break. Odella tries to hold her family together, but when her mother runs off, the family is left reeling. Then Odella meets Jimmy Tomasson, whose dreams of prophetic flying fish seem to have led him to her. In the heat and tenderness of their deepening feelings and in his belief in her, Odella begins to find the strength to unravel the web of secrets that has ensnared them all.
This stunning novel, written in spare, elegant prose and told from multiple points of view, explores the lives of three generations of women in one family, revealing what happens when you don't have the courage to follow your own heart, and what can happen when you do.
"Brooks's (True Confessions of a Heartless Girl) keenly observed novel interweaves the lives of three generations of women overshadowed by secrets. While the narrative focuses on Odella, whose mother leaves the family (and the country) with a lover, then unexpectedly dies, the author also rotates through the perspectives of other characters. It falls to Odella's great-aunt Gloria as much as to Odella, the oldest of three sisters, to give readers a sense of Sally, Odella's guilt-ridden mother. Mistik Lake plays an important role: Sally alone survived a tragic accident on the lake as a teenager, and the small Canadian community, where both Gloria and Sally grew up, serves as the backdrop for the major revelations in the book. Readers may have trouble tracking all the ways various characters connect; the grandfather of Odella's first love, Jimmy, tells her, 'We are all related, one way or another, if you go far enough back,' and it certainly seems to be the case given how the characters' histories intersect. But all of the characters seem distinct and real, thanks to the author's exceptional skill with details (Odella watches Jimmy's grandmother prepare breakfast: 'She begins to move around her kitchen silently, like a ship with sails. I can see the ancestors in her face'). Everyone suffers, but the momentum remains steady and, in the end, it is the author's ability to convey the characters' love for one another, as complicated as it often is, that floats to the top. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A gracefully written novel of connections made and connections missed at a place that resonates with life and death." —The Chicago Sun-Times
"...the intertwining of small-town lives and destinies is poetically conceived and thoughtfully rendered."—Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Expands its exceedingly well-told tale of teenage romance with equally absorbing stories of adults.”—Starred, The Horn Book
"An exceptional writer, Brooks once again immerses readers in a fully realized fictional world and leaves them potentially wiser for the experience.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
"A dreamlike collapse of past and present . . . Readers will connect strongly with the teenager's astonished, powerful feelings of first love."—Starred, Booklist
"Brooks's keenly observed novel interweaves the lives of three generations of women overshadowed by secrets . . . Exceptional."—Starred, Publishers Weekly
"Readers will be rewarded."—VOYA"Smooth writing contributes much to a story that will enable readers to care about Odella's coming of age."—School Library Journal
About the Author
MARTHA BROOKS's True Confessions of a Heartless Girl was chosen a Top Ten ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal, a Booklist Editors' Choice, and a Kirkus Reviews Editor's Choice. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.