cover image Appointment with a Stranger

Appointment with a Stranger

Jean Thesman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $13.95 (166pp) ISBN 978-0-395-49215-4

In the tradition of Portrait of Jennie and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir , this unabashedly romantic tale will have enraptured readers weeping contentedly through its conclusion. To alleviate her asthma, Keller is sent from Seattle to stay with her grandmother in rural Cascade. As always, she tries to keep her debilitating attacks a secret by discouraging the friendly advances of her peers. But Keller forms an important new friendship with Tom, a boy who rescues her from drowning in a pond on an abandoned farm. Tom is different from any boy Keller has ever met, and she soon finds herself looking for him in the woods--the only place she sees him--at every available opportunity. However, Keller's classmate Drew is suspicious (and a bit jealous), and confronts her with a newspaper clipping showing that Tom drowned in the pond over 40 years ago. In the moving climax, Keller can't let go of Tom, who is literally fading away, until Drew makes her realize that her place is most definitely with the living. Thesman ( The Last April Dancers ) adroitly combines a timeless plot with a contemporary message about conquering self-pity and forming realistic relationships. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)