Adult actors/narrators frequently face the challenge of making a child protagonist seem fully realized. Davis (Next Stop Wonderland)
handles the situation with great aplomb, becoming 12-year-old Hollis Woods, an orphan in the foster care system with a heartbreaking and quietly triumphant story to tell. With an appropriately youthful, but not affected, voice, Davis (as Hollis) immediately invites listeners to follow an emotional and physical journey. Abandoned as an infant in a place called Hollis Woods, young Hollis dreams of having a true family—a wish that is the theme of many of the accomplished drawings she creates. Instead, she has been shuffled to various foster homes that don't quite fit. All that changes when she meets the Regans—a kind and friendly mother, father and son who are eager to welcome and love her. But Hollis's skewed image of herself (reinforced by some caretakers) as a tough "mountain of trouble" clouds her judgment and nearly destroys her chance for happiness. Throughout, Hollis shows her sensitive heart (made all the more poignant by Davis's interpretation), especially when she lives with Josie, an elderly foster parent who comes to depend on her. Giff's fine novel, told in alternating flashback chapters, is easier than expected to follow on audio, thanks to Davis's memorable performance. Simultaneous release with the Random/Lamb hardcover.
Ages 8-up. (Sept.)