cover image Just Dance

Just Dance

Patricia MacLachlan. S&S/McElderry, $15.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7252-4

In a characteristically subtle novel set in rural Wyoming, MacLachlan intertwines past and present as she explores the truest meaning of family, home, and fulfillment. Ten-year-old Sylvie Bloom’s mother, a soprano who once performed in grand European concert halls, now uses her musical talent to calm their farm animals (she reserves The Magic Flute for the chickens). Her voice also mesmerizes her daughter, son, and husband, who huddle by the bathroom door when she sings arias in the shower. Sylvie ponders, with some anguish, how her mother could have abandoned her glamorous former life: “It is hard to believe that loving my father is enough. It is hard to believe that Nate and I are enough.” Ironically, as fourth grade ends, the restless narrator longs for “something different” herself, which she finds in a summer job writing (in verse) the sheriff’s log in the local paper: “Not invited!/ A murder of crows/ sly/ sleek/ Eating the Bean field.” Sylvie’s close bonds with her brother and an array of supportive adults distinguish this memorable story, which showcases MacLachlan’s gifts for rich characterization, honest emotion, and deceptive simplicity. Ages 7–up. (Sept.)