cover image WHERE I'D LIKE TO BE


Frances O'Roark Dowell, . . S&S, $15.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0756943578

Wrought with the same sensitivity as her debut novel, Dovey Coe, Dowell's quietly affecting novel explores the fragile camaraderie between two 11-year-old girls who are placed in the East Tennessee Children's Home. Narrator Maddie knows there is something special about Murphy the moment the worldly-wise girl arrives. In hopes of sealing a friendship as soon as possible ("When a new kid comes into the Home, you've got to stake your claim quick if you want dibs on being friends"), Maddie, with trepidation, shows Murphy her most prized possession—a scrapbook filled with pictures of houses ("I was afraid she'd say something that would ruin the Book of Houses forever. [People] can take the things you love and twist them around with a few words so you can't bear to ever look at them"). Inspired by the book, Murphy decides they should build a house of their own. The author creates a poignant contrast between the children's rich fantasies, expressed inside the fort, and the sadness that haunts each of them in the outside world. While Maddie dreams of a brighter future, Murphy directs her attention backward, re-creating her history and identity. The author gently reveals the tragedies they have suffered as well as the strength they gain when they are united. A celebration of friendship and of the healing powers of the imagination. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)