cover image Wreck at Ada’s Reef (The Swallowtail Legacy #1)

Wreck at Ada’s Reef (The Swallowtail Legacy #1)

Michael D. Beil, illus. by Torborg Davern. Pixel+Ink, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64595-048-6

When 12-year-old Lark’s mother dies, she leaves behind an uncertain-feeling blended family, including her 10-year-old sister, Pip; their stepfather, Thomas; and their three stepbrothers. A disarmingly no-nonsense, self-aware narrator, Lark relates what happens when they return together to her mother’s family vacation home on Swallowtail Island off Lake Erie. There, Lark is hired by Nadine, once her mother’s best friend, to help investigate the mysterious boat crash that killed Nadine’s grandfather nearly 75 years ago. One thread leads to town bigwig Captain Cheever, who died days before the wreck and left his land and home in a trust to his first mate; the first mate’s now 93-year-old daughter Dinah Purdy, an African American retired civil rights lawyer, now lives there—but maybe not for long, given the Cheever family’s shady plans. And after a game of soccer, Lark also becomes entangled with 12-year-old Owen Cheever in a relationship that’s pure animosity—or is it? Beil’s (A New Recruit) tightly plotted story of family intrigue and blackmail has considerable emotional ballast among its largely presumed-white cast, as Lark realizes the depth of her stepfather’s grief and the realities of prejudice. Occasional pencil illustrations by Davern highlight notable objects. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary. (Feb.)