This YA companion to Dorris's adult novels A Yellow Raft in Blue Water and Cloud Chamber presents a younger version of the African and Native American heroine, Rayona. After her alcoholic mother checks into a rehab clinic, the 11-year-old's smooth-talking (usually absent) father hands her over to a social worker, who ""owes"" him a favor. While the book's plot, recounting the adolescent's travels from one ""unofficial"" foster family to the next, meanders at times, Rayona's astute, often unorthodox observations of various caretakers are in perfect focus. First there are the overly gracious Potters (""They strike me... as plush stuffed animals, squeezed up against you in a small closet so you can hardly breathe""). Then there is ""strict but fair"" Mrs. Jackson, a retired home economics teacher, who is just waiting for an excuse to ""break rules"" and have fun. Rayona feels most at home with her Kentucky relatives, who offer her the security and love she has missed during her childhood. At every stop of her circuitous journey, Rayona learns something new about herself or other people. Her vivacious personality, her honesty in the face of ever-changing emotions and her command of language will be savored. By the time she returns to her rehabilitated mother, Rayona's tiny ""window"" to the world has been opened a little wider. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Children's
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