At first sight I thought this was going to be romantic slush: an American tale of teenager Lennie, whose sister has suddenly and tragically died, and how she and her grandmother and uncle react and come to terms with their grief, getting to know each other in the process. However, there is much more to it than I first anticipated. The family has unresolved complexities; Lennie’s relationships with boys and other friends become complicated and we are soon enmeshed in a poignant and absorbing story as she begins to sort out what has happened and where her real feelings lie. Reminiscent of Sharon Creech’s Chasing Redbird or Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming, there is much to ponder here and the treatment of complex and confused emotions, while not entirely realistic, is compelling, and the story lightly told.
The book is bulky and thick, with the dimensions and feel of a notebook and one of those handy elastics to keep it closed and to keep your place, and the text is sprinkled with pages representing the napkins, sweet wrappers and other scraps of paper on which Lennie has written ‘poems’ (her thoughts, more accurately) which she has left here and there, cast to the wind and which become a vital and touching part of the resolution of the story.