Flapjack Waltzes

Nancy Hope Wilson, Author Books for Young Readers $16 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-32345-5
Through 12-year-old Natalie Larabee's first-person narration, Wilson (Becoming Felix) delivers a sensitive portrayal of a girl grieving the death of her brother. Beginning with a flashback to two years prior, the year of Jimmy's fatal car accident, Wilson uses alternating chapters between past and present to piece together the memories and events leading up to Nattie's honest admission of her feelings to her parents. With only her dog Omega as a companion, Nattie wants her parents to begin living again and longs to make pancakes and waltz around the kitchen as they had before. But when those efforts seem fruitless, Natalie forges an unusual friendship with a new neighbor, a Holocaust survivor who helps her to put things in perspective. Eventually, Nattie also reconnects with her estranged best friend--whose brother survived the same accident that killed Jimmy. The pacing is uneven, and readers may often wonder what triggers certain memories at appointed times in the novel. However, Natalie is a strong, likable character, and readers may well embrace the novel's message of renewal. For a more gracefully rendered treatment of the impact of loss on a family, try Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth (reviewed June 1). Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
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