Little, Kimberley Griffiths. Circle of Secrets.
1 October 2011, Scholastic
Shelby is angry at everyone. Her father, because he's going away and can't leave her with her grandmother, who is in the hospital. Her mother, who walked away from the family a year ago. The new students in her school who slyly taunt her. Shelby's mother is a healer and her house is in the swamp, so her new classmates have plenty of ammunition to tease her. When Shelby meets Gwen, she is relieved to have someone to talk to, but she's concerned because Gwen's parents are missing and she is staying on her own. While dealing with Gwen's problems, Shelby becomes somewhat more understanding of her mother's difficulties in living away from the swamp with Shelby's overbearing paternal grandmother, and starts to embrace the odd life the two make in the swamp. Gwen's secrets, however, take on a new urgency when they put Shelby in danger.
Strengths: This was a good ghost mystery, reminiscent of Barrett's Cold in Summer. There is a very strong sense of place, and Shelby's difficulties are realistic and not easily solved.
Weaknesses: Anything with a quirky/Southern component is never my favorite, especially when there is a bit of dialect ("jest" for "just"). No idea why.
Hemphill's Sisters of Glass (2012) would be great if I had students interested in a novel in verse about Venetian glass blowing in the fifteenth century; oddly, I don't. Doller's Something Like Normal (2012) would be a great addition to a high school library, since it deals with a young man coming back from serving in Afghanistan; unfortunately, it has a lot of gratuitous foul language and sexual allusions.
Mary Downing Hahn's Mister Death's Blue-eyed Girls (2012) was a very good Young Adult book, but significantly different from the author's middle grade ghost stories. This was clearly a very personal novel for the author, but the historical setting and the murder plot, combined with the length, make me less motivated to get it for a middle school library. The Fabulous Teen Librarian at my public library who does school visits felt the same way.
Summer Throwdown. The problem with going to the library is that I get distracted, most often by the adult nonfiction. I also pick up things, like the ones listed above, that really aren't quite right. They LOOK good, though! I read 4.25 books (one was a picture book about Julia Child). This is a time when I wish I did NOT have my blog scheduled ahead, because there is a weird lag between reading the book and posting the review.