By Carolyn Coman
Brief Summary: Ever since her sister Laura was murdered half-way around the world, Berry has slowly been sliding apart. Her grades have dropped, she can’t stand to be alone and now she’s quitting the swim team. Her relationship with her father has downgraded to civil, at best, as it becomes more and more apparent that Berry is not Laura. That being said, when her father announces that they will be traveling to South Africa for a memorial ceremony for Laura, Berry is not exactly thrilled.
Kell’s Chatty Review: How I adored this book. It is slim and tiny and so well written. Even though Coman’s words are incredibly beautiful, you can feel the anger and depressing bubbling below the surface – exactly how Berry was the entire book. Calm on the outside, always so close to anger on the inside.
Berry: is seriously, seriously going through some major emotions. Obviously. But the way she evolves throughout the novel is amazing to read. And props to Coman again for the slow evolution instead of a hurried and altogether fake one.
Like most Printz books: this was not an easy book to read. There is a lot of tragedy and many flawed characters, but (I’m turning into an after-school special here) the book’s lessons are worth the tragedy. Berry is suffering from both abandonment issues from her father and from the murder of her sister and it is clear how much she does not want to move on. To heal. But in South Africa, she’s surrounded by many types of healing and moving on. And she was transfixed by the way the South Africans were addressing their grievances (and so was I).
Also,: and here comes my nerdy side, folks, the historical details about South Africa were fascinating to read. Some of the details in the book I was aware of, but other things blew me away! (The whole scene on Robben Island was what I wanted my history classes to be like.) It was also interesting to see Berry reacting to the conditions she encounters in South Africa. I was really pleased she wasn’t so insulated from the world that she ignored the injustices going on around her.
What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Go to South Africa. Even though this story is about loss, relationships and moving on, it also is an homage to South Africa – its past and its present.
Where this book came from: the library!