cover image Almost Home

Almost Home

Mary-Claire Helldorfer, M. C. Helldorfer. Bradbury Press, $12.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-02-743512-2

When their mother returns to law school, Jessie, 12, and her older brother Lewis must spend the summer at the island home of their grandfathera man they've never known. On the island, Jessie is befriended by Carmen, a deeply unhappy girl who claims to be a witch. For Jessie, it is a summer of self-discovery; as her relationship with her grandfather deepens, she uncovers important truths about both herself and her absent mother. With the strength derived from these new insights, Jessie is able to help Carmen. Unfortunately, this quietly rewarding tale is often overshadowed by a rambling and unfocused plot that includes several near-drownings, a mysterious 18th century pirate and Carmen's disastrously successful fortune-telling business. But shy, artistic Jessie, her compassionate grandmother and her prickly friend Carmen are true survivors: they will linger for a long time in the reader's mind. Ages 9-13. (September)