Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
What did you like about the book? This book was very powerful. Van is a young teenager who has led a nomadic life with her talented but troubled mother and their family friend, Ida. They are well-off now, but Van remembers lean and scary times from when she was very young. She is old enough now to understand that her mother Sofia has a mental illness as well as brilliance. Van and Ida work together to keep Sofia out of hospitals and jails. As Van gets older, she begins to see the appeal of the normal life she did not get to have. The characters in this book were wonderful, particularly Ida and Van. Their relationship was lovely and well written. Van’s growing awareness that her own talents and intelligence may also have their seeds in mania, and the realization that she may need to separate from her mother to stay sane is heartbreaking and effectively presented.
Anything you didn’t like about it?The speed with which the Silver Saddle staff came to love and truly care for Van and Ida didn’t ring true. It was a false note in an otherwise skillfully presented story.
To whom would you recommend this book? (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Kids with troubled families and divided loyalties. YA Librarians.
Who should buy this book? High Schools and Public Libraries.
Where would you shelve it ? YA
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. Burian is an author to watch. Also, this book may fill a special need for teenagers with difficult parents.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA
Date of review: 6 July 2017