Feather in the Wind

Norma Johnston, Author Marshall Cavendish Children's Books $14.95 (172p) ISBN 978-0-7614-5063-4
Opening in September 2000 and told as a flashback over the previous year, Johnston's (the Keeping Days series) novel is plagued by narrative gaps, despite an original premise. When 14-year-old Becca's grandmother dies, her family moves with her grandfather into an old Dutch family homestead firmly planted on what was once Lenape territory. There, Becca begins to see and communicate with the ghost of an 18th-century Native American boy. Her grandfather, who shares her ability to see ghosts, explains that, like her high IQ, the gift is a result of having DNA that's ""not entirely human."" (He's not certain whether his mutant DNA is due to his childhood experience witnessing the first A-bomb testing in Los Alamos or an odd encounter as an astronaut in space.) Now, not only does Becca have an identity crisis on her hands, she must help Little Hawk's soul to find peace. Readers never learn exactly how the ghost sightings work, and may be distracted by a subplot concerning a friend whose mother is pressuring her to become a singer, and by Becca's intermittent, heavy-handed exposition about all the hate in the world (""Anyone who could have a detached scientific discussion about ethnic massacres... isn't human,"" she says, vilifying Ross, a boy on whom she purportedly has a crush). The various threads of the story (the DNA quandary, the ghost sightings and recompense for the atrocities of the past) vie for readers' attention but never quite come together. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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