Sang Spell

( 11 )

Overview

Josh is hitchhiking from Boston to Dallas to begin a new life, trying to sort out the changes that have skewed his world since an accident killed his mother and made a mockery of his dreams. No longer will he be what he was — an important person in a high school he loved. Instead he will be starting his junior year in a place where no one will know him, no one will care.
He wanders up a road he has taken away from the interstate, where he has been thumbing rides, looking for a ...

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Overview

Josh is hitchhiking from Boston to Dallas to begin a new life, trying to sort out the changes that have skewed his world since an accident killed his mother and made a mockery of his dreams. No longer will he be what he was — an important person in a high school he loved. Instead he will be starting his junior year in a place where no one will know him, no one will care.
He wanders up a road he has taken away from the interstate, where he has been thumbing rides, looking for a village where he might find shelter from the unexpected August cold and rain. When a car comes along, it looks like a ride to somewhere. And that's what it proves to be. But the somewhere he finds is not the somewhere he expected. It is a place that knows him, knows the darkness inside of him; that offers food and shelter, but also confronts him with choices he does not know how to make. It probes his past, examines his possible futures, and finally pierces the wall of despair he has built around himself.
Sang Spell is a fantasy built on the hopes and dreams of a people who longed for a place of peace, for a way out of the dark and the rain. Some might think finding such a place to be a miracle, but not Josh. To him it is a nightmare, a prison he cannot escape. Sang Spell is an adventure into a place of forgotten people, the Melungeons, and into the boundaries created by the human mind.

When his mother is killed in an automobile accident, high-schooler Josh decides to hitchhike across country, and finds himself trapped in a mysterious village somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, among a group of people who call themselves Melungeons.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review, PW said that the author "combines elements of Brigadoon and Lost Horizon with little-known historical lore to create a haunting story of a youth's journey from dissolution to wholeness." Ages 11-up. (Apr.)n Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's Jan. 1999 review of the hardcover edition, a KLIATT Editors' Choice book: When we first meet Josh he's on the road, hitchhiking from Massachusetts to Texas to go live with his aunt. He's grieving for his dead mother and anxious about starting his junior year of high school in a place he doesn't know. He thinks the hitchhiking will be a lark to brag about, but it turns into something more than that. First he's robbed and beaten by one of his rides, and left by the side of the road somewhere in Appalachia. A silent woman in a horse-drawn wagon brings him to a strange community named Canara, an isolated, almost medieval village where the people farm and hunt wild ginseng root, which they call "sang." The setting—and mood—resemble that of "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. There's an ominous feel to Canara, and it seems to have its own physical laws. For example, the village seems to move about in relation to the surrounding mountains—and there's no way out. Josh is befriended by a girl named Mavis, and learns that the people are Melungeons, persecuted descendents of early Portuguese settlers who interbred with Native Americans and others and hid away in mountain valleys. (Naylor explains more about them in an Afterword). Only those of Melungeon descent, like Josh, can find their way to Canara. But only some can manage to find their way out. An angry young man named Kasper is desperate to leave, and he tries to involve Josh in his murderous scheme to escape. It isn't until Josh allies himself with the people of this strange place that he can find his way out, and accept his new life to come. This is an atmospheric, suspenseful read that will appeal tomystery lovers. Naylor, author of Shiloh and more than 90 other books, does a terrific job of describing the odd, enchanted world of Canara, and Josh is a sympathetic protagonist. This is one that lingers in the memory. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, 212p.18cm, 97-34067, $4.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; May 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 3)
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
Before he ever left home Josh Vardy felt lost. His father died when he was small, and now, just as he is preparing for his exciting junior year of high school, his mother is killed in an automobile crash. Josh decides to take his time hitchhiking across the country to begin his new life in Texas. When he is beaten and robbed and left on a secluded path somewhere in Appalachia, Josh is really lost. He wakes to find himself in a strange community called Canara, where Melungeons, a people of uncertain origin, have retreated so far into the mountains that they live in a time and space all their own. The Melungeons are an odd but decent folk, and Josh struggles to find his way back to the outside world. And he must decide if he truly wants to go. This fascinatingly textured novel is haunting and gratifying, layered with emotion and suspense. Students will likely be motivated to explore further the Melungeons and their largely forgotten place in American history. A wonderful book.
VOYA - Mary Ann Capan
Fifteen-year-old Josh sets out on a hitchhiking trip from Boston to Dallas, hoping that the meandering route will give him time to sort out recent disturbing events precipitated by the car accident that killed his mother. After Josh is savagely beaten and robbed along the way, he is rescued by a woman in a horse-drawn wagon who takes him to an odd community where people live in what seem to be medieval times. The inhabitants live simply, eating and sleeping communally and wearing drab, homespun clothes. Josh is allowed to stay if he works for his keep. The self-sufficient community derives its main income from the ginseng roots or "sang," which are harvested nearby. Josh discovers that this peculiar community, called Canara, exists as though a spell has been cast over it. Totally isolated, no outsiders enter and no one leaves. The children attend school to learn only the history of Canara and what knowledge will preserve their self-sufficiency. Befriended by Mavis, Josh learns that these inhabitants are Melungeons, a people of forgotten ancestry whose arrival in America predated Jamestown. Josh is torn between Canara and his anxiety to move on to his future in Dallas. Though free to leave, he learns that there is no road out of Canara. Even more puzzling is Josh's observation that Canara seems to move with the moon. Isobel, the old one in the community, tells Josh that "to go forward, you must go back as you have lost your way." Josh will leave only after he fulfills her prophecy. Naylor's memorable story skillfully combines the real world with a haunting, fantasy one as she introduces the Melungeons. The reader is aware that Canara's people will live on as they hover between their world and the world as we know it. Josh is a believable character who uses his time in Canara to grieve for his mother as he learns about himself, his heritage, and his future. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 4-9-Josh is on his way to Texas when he enters the village of the Melugeons. The village and its 19th century atmosphere are surrounded by mysterious forces that hold those inside apart and will not allow even strangers like Josh to leave. Forced to examine his past, his dreams, and his despair over his future, he discovers who and what he is, and the true powers of the human mind. By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Naylor (Achingly Alice, p. 741, etc.) explores the role synchronicity plays in life, and the mental and emotional restraints people place upon themselves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481415897
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/19/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 982,767
  • Age range: 12 years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh and the Alice series. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2008

    You wont be able to put the book down!!

    ISBN-13: 9780689820069<BR/><BR/>Do You like to read mystery books? If so, then Sang Spell is definitly the book for you! Sang Spell was written by Phyllis Naylor and published in April 2000. This book is like no other i have ever read. Sand Spell was written is fisrt person, from Josh's point of view. A good age for this book, in my opinion, would be anywhere from a young teen and up. This book made me excited, sad, and anxious all at the same time. Especially the ending. That part was my favorite!!<BR/><BR/> I Thought that this was a very interesting book. It will keep you turning the pages till the end. Sang Spell is about a boy named Josh Vardi. His mother died in a car crash and Josh is now hitch - hiking his way from Boston to Texas to live with his aunt. The first ride that Josh is offered he takes, the guy ends up robbing him of $400 and kicking the crap out of him and leaving him on the side of the interstate. The second ride he gets offered is a little strange, considering that the lady is riding a horse pulling a carraige. Josh decides to get in anyways.<BR/><BR/> He ends up in this very strange place. They call this place Canara and the people there call themselves Melungeons. The Melungeons seem like they are living in their own little world and their technology is way behind and doesnt seems advanced in any way at all. Their aren't many people who live here and they say there is only one way out. Josh doesnt understand what "one way out" means at first. He figures if there is a way in then you will be able to get back out that way too. Well Josh has three failed attempts on getting out of this place. Josh is going crazy and just wants to go back home. He thinks there is something holding him back, like a curse. Was it Mavis, the girl he be-friended as soon as he got there? Was it the lady that never speaks and just sits in her cabin all day long? Or is it Kaspar, the boy who threatned to kill Josh if he finds a way out before him.<BR/><BR/> Will Josh survive and be able to escape back to Texas or will they put a curse on them like they do to everybody who comes. Read Sang Spell to find out if Josh lives or he dies? ENJOY!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2003

    thats very interesting!

    This was a very interesting book. It will keep you turning the pages till the end. Sang Spell is about a boy named Josh Vardi. His mother died in a car crash in June. He went to live with his aunt in Texas because his father left him when he was very early in his youth. He ends up in this very strange place. They call this place Canara and they call themselves Melungeons. Their aren't many people who live here and they say there is only one way out. Will Josh survive and be able to escape back to Texas or will they put a curse on them like they do to everybody who comes. Read Sang Spell to find out if Josh lives or he dies? ENJOY!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2003

    An odd and...ok just an odd book.

    This boy that has already been through enough considering his mom just died desides he will hitch hike to his aunt's house(which happens to be far away). Now if this isn't bad enough already he gets robbed and beaten....then he gets stuck in what I'd call a virtual universe that he can't get out of with disapearing resturaunts and school houses.Then one night he finnally gets out and makes it back to the the highway.This is one of the weirdest books I've ever read very interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2003

    Great

    I think this is one of my favorite book. You made you want to read more and more until you are finished!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    Different

    This is a story about a boy, who is robbed and beaten, then left on the side of the road to fend for himself. Fortunetly, luck is on his side, and he is rescued. Josh(the boy) is brought to a place called Canara. Canara is very primitive, and different from his life before his mother died. Now the only thing Josh is concerned about is getting out of Canara. Will he get out of Canara before it's too late?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2002

    melungeons

    Josh Vardy is a boy that got mugged by a driver and got left on the road.Josh got picked up by a girl named leon.When he got there he met a girl called Mavis.Josh had an enemy by the name Casper.Josh thought the people were weird.If you wanna know what happens read the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2001

    A great book

    This book was one of the best books i have ever read. i have read many of her books and this is by far my favorite. you can really feel how it was like to live in canara and it had you asking questions that made you want to read and never stop. i loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2001

    Good book for teens

    The mysterious adventures of Josh in a town that he is stuck in called Canara. I really liked all of the characters in this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2000

    So Great

    Phyllis came to my school today, and told us about other books of hers, but Sang Spell has to be the greatest! It is a really awesome book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2000

    from heather

    i like it a lot it was a great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2000

    Very touching book for the mature minds

    This book is very compelling and moving! It is about 17-year-old Josh Vardy and his adventures in a mountainous town called Canara. Canara is a town where people bathe in rivers,pick ginseng as their only way of getting money,and something strange is happening.Buildings dissapear,now one has ever heard of the industrial reveloution,and no one can get out except for dying. But Josh wants to get out very eagerly.So he speaks with the town elder which gives him only seven words of wisdom:to go foward,you must go back.

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