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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Award-winning author David Almond does not disappoint eager audiences with this tale of family, survival, and the thin line between reality and dreams.
In the dreary orphanage of Whitegates, three friends long for freedom and purpose. Sadly labeled as damaged goods, these kids hold their memories close to their hearts and ignore the tired and world-weary gazes of Maureen, who runs the orphanage. Erin and her friend January run away on occasion, but they are usually caught within a couple of days or return due to lack of money and a place to sleep. Their latest journey, however, is unlike any other. They plan to make a raft and escape down the river. After Mouse, a small, shy boy whose name reflects the pint-size pet he carries in his pocket, begs to be included on their voyage, the three are off to the river. When they end up not far from Whitegates but in a seemingly different world on the muddy bank of Black Middens, they meet an unusual girl with webbed hands and an unavoidable stare. She calls herself Heaven's Eyes, and her primitive language and ethereal beauty intrigue the trio. Living in abandoned offices under the care of an old man she calls Grandpa, Heaven's Eyes soon reveals details of the life she leads. Then Erin and her friends also unearth the real truth of Heaven's past.
Almond ties this moving and surreal story together with the overwhelming desire to love, have family and enjoy freedom. Dreams and reality coincide, and Erin speaks to the reader in a way that reinforces the truthfulness of what she says. The real magic lies in Almond's fantastic ability to relate a story of wonder and sorrow to young readers with grace and strength. The details of an enlightening mystery need not be filled with facts and answers. For many, the excitement and life lessons are found within the journey. (Amy Barkat)