cover image With You and Without You

With You and Without You

Ann Matthews Martin. Holiday House, $12.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-0601-2

Martin's fifth novel brings readers into the world of real, recognizable peopleboth adults and children. Through narrator Liza O'Hara, 12, we experience the seasons before and after the death of her father. Knowing he has less than a year before his heart fails, Mr. O'Hara wants his family to help him make his remaining time happy for all. Guided by their gallant mother, Liza and her teenage brother Brent involve younger sisters Carrie and Hope in planning a joyous Christmas and special days until spring. Then the father dies, a tragedy his widow and children bear with their mutual support and the kindness of friends. It's hard, though, to endure grief as well as worry over money, moving into a small house where Liza, particularly, feels cramped. She also thinks the family is disloyal to Mr. O'Hara as another Christmas approaches and she alone refuses to participate in holiday preparations. By the end of the poignant and quietly humorous story, however, Liza understands how she must live, ""without you'' as she had ``with you.'' (1014)