cover image The Land of Forgotten Girls

The Land of Forgotten Girls

Erin Entrada Kelly. Greenwillow, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-223864-1

Kelly (Blackbird Fly) balances the bleak and the beautiful in a novel about the multilayered bond between sisters. Twelve-year-old narrator Sol and her six-year-old sister, Ming, live in a depressing, rat-infested apartment building with their cruel stepmother, Vea, who taps cigarette ashes into the carpet and locks them in the closet when they misbehave. Soon after the girls' mother and younger sister Amelia died, their father married Vea and moved all of them from the Philippines to Louisiana, only to abandon them and return home. In a supernatural thread woven into the story, Sol converses with the ghost of Amelia, who offers advice and helps Sol parse what is true and what is real. Fairy-tale fantasies and extensions of the tales their mother once told Sol contrast with her day-to-day life with her best friend Manny and a well-developed cast that includes an artistically inclined junkyard owner and a kind neighbor. While the story is resolved a bit tidily, Kelly's strong heroine offers hope in the face of loss. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Mar.)