cover image The Other Shepards

The Other Shepards

Adele Griffin. Hyperion Books, $14.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0423-8

Eighth grader Holland Shepard eloquently narrates the pains of surviving adolescence--when three of her siblings did not. She and her obsessive-compulsive younger sister Geneva live in New York City's Greenwich Village, in a house ""inlaid and overworked in memories too precious to sell."" The memories belong not to Holland and Geneva, who never knew the other Shepards--John, Kevin and Elizabeth--but to their parents, who remain silent on the subject of the siblings who died 18 years ago. Though a secret stash of photos of the other Shepherds reveals a warm, demonstrative family, now their mother, whose ""eyes are glassy with a liquid that never spills,"" refers to any display of affection as ""Ick."" When mysterious Annie arrives to paint a mural for their mother's birthday, her creative expression and earthy demeanor provide the antidote to the dispassion of the girls' parents; she leads the sisters to dispel the ghosts and to make memories of their own. Griffin (Sons of Liberty) spins a taut story of two girls whose tomblike home life begins to squelch them, and who must confront the unknown in order to liberate themselves. In a powerful blending of elements from the supernatural, romance and everyday teenage experience, Griffin's story offers a resounding affirmation that fears are to be faced, not denied, and life is to be lived, not mourned. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)