Ann Matthews Martin, , read by Judith Ivey. . Listening Library, $25 ( , unabridged, three cassettes, 4.5 hours, $25 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-8072-1670-5

Martin (Belle Teal ) and actress Ivey reach perfect emotional pitch on this recording of Martin's profoundly moving novel about a girl's conflicted relationship with a relative who suffers from a mental illness. The summer that Hattie turns 12 is a swirl of change. Already shy and trying to find a good fit in her own skin, Hattie meets for the first time her mentally ill Uncle Adam—a family member she never knew existed because he's been hospitalized for years. Adam stays with his parents, Hattie's grandparents, for the summer while they attempt to find a new care facility for him. Hattie soon believes that she and Adam are kindred spirits and she grows to treasure his company, even though the townsfolk treat Adam like a freak. When two dramatic events prove devastating for Adam, Hattie faces some of the darkest yet also illuminating days of her young life. All through this heartfelt work, Ivey keeps her tone slightly matter-of-fact and even light, painting Hattie's journey as one of discovery and blossoming compassion rather than sad introspection or anger. Her depiction of Adam, capturing a fast pace sometimes suggesting Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man , commendably refrains from going over the top. A brief author's note provides listeners with Martin's personal connections to (and also differences from) the characters and events in the book. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)