Kate Banks, . . FSG/Foster, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-374-38230-8

Banks's (Dillon, Dillon) mesmerizing prose draws readers into the world of 14-year-old Rachel as she struggles to understand the repercussions of a family tragedy. It has been seven years since her older brother, Jake, died at age 17, but only now does Rachel find his journal. Deftly intertwining poetic excerpts from the diary with Rachel's reflections, the author draws a poignant, painfully honest sketch of a family bearing invisible scars. Reasons for the characters' idiosyncrasies—Rachel's mother's obsession with finding a new house, her father's tendency to joke about serious things, and Rachel's habit of laughing when she's sad and crying when she's amused—gradually come to the surface as Rachel makes connections between Jake's death and the present state of her family. At the same time readers become intimately acquainted with Rachel, they also come to know Jake, a sensitive, highly intelligent boy trapped by his emotions ("Once there was a boy named Jake. Some people are born with too many fingers or too much hair. Jake was born with too many feelings," Jake writes). Sensitively revealing the mystery of Jake's death, the author leaves it to the audience to judge what doomed Jake and what marks his sister as a survivor. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)