cover image Gingersnap


Patricia Reilly Giff. Random/Lamb, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-375-83891-0

Giff smoothly intertwines threads of loss, displacement, hope, family, and the soothing power of food (especially soup) in a quiet but emotionally charged novel set during WWII. Jayna—nicknamed Gingersnap by her mother, who died in a car accident along with the girl’s father—feels understandably alone after her only relative, her older brother Rob, goes missing while serving in the Navy. Inspired by items from her mother’s past that she finds, and urged on by the voice of a ghost, Jayna packs up the turtle she’s adopted and runs away from upstate New York to Brooklyn. The ghost (who Jayna believes to be her mother) promises to help her find a family, and Giff’s deft plotting leads the girl to find just that, in surprising and satisfying ways. The pacing falters occasionally—it takes Jayna a while to share information that she knows links her to the kindly bakery owner who takes her in—but Jayna’s yearning to belong and desperate longing for her brother’s safe return give this story its soulful core. Ages 9–12. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)