cover image THE CRYING ROCKS


Janet Taylor Lisle, . . Atheneum/Jackson, $16.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85319-7

Once again, Lisle (Afternoon of the Elves ; The Art of Keeping Cool ) demonstrates her ability to sensitively and suspensefully unveil enigmatic characters' secrets. Joelle, 13, remembers nothing about her early years. Adopted at age five by a middle-aged Rhode Island couple, Joelle has been told odd, painful bits of information: that she was born in Chicago, where her mother threw her out of a third-floor window; and that somehow she made her way to Connecticut, where an old lady kept her in a wooden crate near a train depot and sent her out to collect cigarette stubs. Her classmate Carlos suggests she is part Narragansett Indian, and when she studies the mural of Narragansetts at her local library, Joelle sees her resemblance to them. Carlos, haunted by his own painful memories, plays a key role in helping Joelle retrace the steps of colonial-era Narragansetts. He takes Joelle on hikes in the wilderness and shows her the Crying Rocks, a site where many Native Americans perished. Connecting the Narragansetts' suffering with tragedies occurring in their own lives, the children confront and eventually come to accept hard truths. Lisle artfully weaves the stories of Joelle and Carlos together with mysterious, centuries-old myths. If the pacing lags at times, Lisle offsets it with her expertise at developing complex, intriguing characters. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)