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When Lace's older sister, Marni, falls victim to a summer swimming accident, it paralyzes Lace in time. For Lace, there is only a before--can there be an after? But as the summer surges on, she learns that she must return to the water, the very thing that tore her family apart. This beautifully crafted novel explores the boundaries of family and friendship, the greatest griefs that knock us down, and the smallest kindnesses that ...
When Lace's older sister, Marni, falls victim to a summer swimming accident, it paralyzes Lace in time. For Lace, there is only a before--can there be an after? But as the summer surges on, she learns that she must return to the water, the very thing that tore her family apart. This beautifully crafted novel explores the boundaries of family and friendship, the greatest griefs that knock us down, and the smallest kindnesses that guide us to safe harbors.
"…Lacey is a consistently sympathetic character throughout. Readers will doubtless take to her like ducks to water."—Booklist
"It’s a heartfelt tale about individual identity, sisterly closeness, and working through fear that even the siblingless will find touching."—BCCB
"Vibrant, descriptive prose and characters that are strong, original, and often comic save an emotional topic from becoming mawkish. Lace’s grief feels real, and the account of her family’s strength inspires. The story overall is surprisingly uplifting, and worth recommending to anyone interested in family dynamics and complex emotions." —School Library Journal
Twelve-year-old Lace has always lived in the shadow of her popular, talented and beautiful sister, Marni. Now she lives in the shadow of her sister's accident. When the dare to jump from a cliff into the lake below ends tragically, taking Marni and her mother to the hospital in the city for the foreseeable future, Lace abandons everything that reminds her of her sister. This includes her love of swimming. Family and friends cannot breach the walls Lace has erected around herself. Enter the odd and possibly dangerous housekeeper, Willa Dodge. With her mysterious past and no-nonsense attitude, Willa begins to pave the way for a new future for both sisters. The mystery surrounding Willa's motives and the uncertainty about the extent of Marni's injuries propel the story forward. Unfortunately, neither has the energy to support the flat characters and unfocused theme. Lace, in particular, feels false. While she outwardly exhibits the classic stages of grief, her inner emotional reactions fall flat. The story's motive is undoubtedly earnest, but it falters in execution. (Fiction. 10-14)
Excerpted from The Properties of Water by Hannah Roberts McKinnon Copyright © 2010 by Hannah Roberts McKinnon. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted November 7, 2013
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Posted February 16, 2011
The Properties of Water, a debut novel by Hannah Roberts McKinnon, was a pleasant surprise. It is a beautifully written story about two sisters, Lace and Marni Martin, although there is little interaction between them in the book.
Marni, the older sister was always the best. The best student. The best swimmer on the swim team. The prettiest. And while Lace always looked up to her, there were times that she got tired of being in her older sister's shadow.
This doesn't change when Marni is seriously injured jumping off Turtle Rock into the water below at the beginning of summer vacation, causing her to be away from home in a rehabilitation center. Now Lace experiences Marni's friends' uneasiness around her and wonders whether they are being nice to her because of the accident. Lace is reluctant to visit her sister and her mother, who has moved to be closer to Marni. Her father and grandparents visit as often as they can. Her father also hired Willa Dodge, a home caregiver to help around the house and ultimately assist them when Marni returns home. Lace thinks there's something odd about her.
The Properties of Water ably explores Lace's relationship to Marni, to her best friend Beth Ann and to Willa. The entire story is real, as if the reader is living inside Lace's body. McKinnon's writing is so descriptive, you can picture Willa's midnight swims in the lake by the house or Lace and Beth Ann's competition for cute Sully Tanner's affections. You can picture all the characters and all the events as if you were there. And you can experience the emotions that are pulling Lace apart.
There is much more to this slim volume (only 163 pages) than one would expect. It might be one of my 10 best for 2011. Here's hoping to read more from Hannah Roberts McKinnon real soon.
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Posted June 20, 2011
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