Kimberly Willis Holt, author of the National Book Awardwinning When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, crafts a moving story of one girl's struggle to cope with her mother's suicide.
Told in short chapters through the narrator's words, Holt's tale takes us to modern-day Guam, where we see how Isabela and her family try to get on with their normal lives despite the tension that surrounds them. At first, Isabela is the "dutiful daughter," tending to her anguished family, but she slowly begins acting out herself, particularly when Mary Kelly -- a non-native from a wealthier family -- moves to the area and a potential romantic interest of Isabela's gravitates toward Mary instead. But when things slowly come to a head and Isabela's brother, Frank, winds up in the hospital after cutting himself, the family begins healing communication.
Holt weaves together a beautiful, sophisticated story that won't disappoint her loyal fans. As usual, the author is keenly attuned to people and their relationships, always remembering to keep young Isabela feeling the pain of difficult family situations but distant enough to focus on her own friendships and problems. Different from Holt's previous work -- especially with the atypical setting of Guam -- this tour de force is a novel not to miss. Shana Taylor