Booklist Johnson's latest novel part mystery, part ghost story, and part coming-of-age narrative is chilling and heartbreaking....In beautiful prose, the narrative moves fluidly from flashbacks to the present, and the stages of grief are represented in startling but realistic ways.
Publishers Weekly Those mourning a loss are likely to find Mike's incisive observations familiar and comforting.
A middle-schooler's brother disappears one day. As she weaves scattered recollections of her brother into what PW called "an affecting account" of how she deals with the pain of his death, she slowly brings the particulars of the tragedy into focus. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This lyrical and engaging novel is divided into four spare, but compelling, parts¾ missing, looking, listening, and moving on¾all stages that accompany loss. Michaela's teenaged brother, Red, is gone. How Mike, her family, and Red's two closest friends are affected in the aftermath of his disappearance is the focus of this mysterious story. Mike dwells upon her own daily childhood memories of her brother, fishing with him and listening to his tales of mapmakers and sea monsters. She also sees regular apparitions of him leaning against their shed. Is Red really gone? What's the true story behind his death that only Mike, Mona, and Mark know? Anticipating the answers to these questions will keep readers involved to the end. The book combines a powerful mixture of slow-paced remembrance with a page-turning need for answers. "It's like walking barefoot in a room full of glass, when someone you love goes away," says Mike. Readers will often feel the same way as they share her painful, but healing, journey. 2002, Simon & Schuster,
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2002: Author of Toning the Sweep and Heaven, two Coretta Scott King Award winners about difficult family transitions, Johnson turns to the subject of grief in Looking for Red. Mike (Michaela) is the younger sister of Red, who disappeared into the sea about three months ago; Mike still sees him here and there and looks for him everywhere. Red's girlfriend Mona and best friend Mark are also having their terrors over the loss, as are Cassie and Frank, the parents. They live in a small Cape Cod community, wedded year-round to the sea. Johnson uses her usual prose-poem style to tell a brief story that is deeper, wider, longer than the words themselves. "And it's harder than ever now 'cause I haven't ever been without him in the fall. No season change, for that matter. Because he was here, alive, at the beginning of the summer, I guess I thought if it stayed warm, I could keep him somehow. I haven't seen Red since the night on the widow's walk. Maybe he smelled fall coming too. Maybe it was time for him to lean and dance somewhere else." There really isn't any other YA author remotely like Angela Johnson. (Note: The cover for the paperback edition is wonderful.) KLIATT Codes: J*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 116p., Ages 12 to 15.
Mike (Michaela) is fourteen years old when her seventeen-year-old brother, Red, disappears. They were very close. Mike had even tagged along when Red ran away from home to become a fisherman years ago. Mike and her family live on the Cape, and the ocean and salt air are a part of her, just as Red is. Red's girlfriend, Mona, and his best friend, Mark, are also her friends. Mike is devastated by the loss of Red, as are Mona, Mark, and her parents. Each handles the loss differently yet tries to help the others. Slowly, with lots of help from her aunt, a neighbor, the blue glass beads her brother so loved, her memories of Red, and the release of a secret, Mike begins to feel that she can move on. Beautifully told, the book reveals love and grief as the mystery of what happened to Red unfolds. Just as in her Coretta Scott King Award-winners, Toning the Sweep (Orchard Books, 1993/VOYA June 1993) and Heaven (Simon & Schuster, 1998/VOYA February 1999), Johnson's writing is spare and lyrical. Readers care about the characters and feel their emotions. The pictures conjured up by the words take readers into the characters' lives and leave them the better for it. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Simon & Schuster, 128p, Levine
Gr 5-8 Mike, 12, describes what her life on Cape Cod has been like since her older brother disappeared while swimming in the ocean three months earlier. She still sees Red leaning against the shed and in her dreams. She isolates herself from others who are also grieving, especially Red's best friend, Mark, and his girlfriend, Mona, who were there with her when he drowned. In the fall, Mike begins interacting with her friends again and sees her brother less. She finally tells her aunt about the pact that Mark and Red had made: if Red swam out to a buoy and back, Mark would give him his car. Mona had encouraged him and Mike herself had been hopeful he would win the bet. With the secret told, Red walks out of her dreams. The strength of this story is the accurate portrayal of the surreal nature of grief laden with guilt that the three young people are experiencing. Short chapters include scenes that alternate from before and after the drowning, and piecing them together and making sense of them will be a challenge to some readers. Potentially therapeutic, this is not as lucid as similar titles such as Marion Dane Bauer's On My Honor (Clarion, 1986), Eve Bunting's Blackwater (HarperCollins, 1999), and Paul Fleischman's Whirligig (Holt, 1998). -Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.