Penelope

Penelope Farmer, Author Margaret K. McElderry Books $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-80121-1
Supernatural themes electrify a tale that addresses a quintessential adolescent concern, the search for identity. Flora is without parents-her mother died long ago and her father deserted the family before her birth. Raised in her paternal cousins' home in a working-class part of London, the brainy, bookish Flora would have trouble enough sorting out her sense of self, but, to add to the expected confusion, she is gripped by powerful memories of events she could not have experienced. As Flora's best friend, an Indian girl, and Flora's aunt grow convinced that Flora is remembering a past life, Farmer (Charlotte Sometimes) lays out inviting clues-a portrait of an 18th-century baronet in the Tate Gallery, a button collection, scraps of Latin. This novel differs from run-of-the-mill supernatural tales not only for the expert quality of its prose but in the way the reincarnation story line serves the larger tale of Flora's coming of age and discovery of her family history. The paranormal elements, while integral to the plot, never overshadow the ongoing events in the lives of the characters. Indeed, the rest of the novel is so realistic and the cast so well fleshed out that they alone will trigger the reader's imagination. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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