On Jane Holden’s twelfth birthday, she is expecting to get a digital camera and to finally get her ears pierced; instead Lizzie, her sister, is admitted to the hospital suffering from anorexia. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in love, breathe out pain. This is a family in turmoil and the worst possible things happen: Lizzie dies, her parents constantly fight, her mom moves out. Even worse, Jane’s two best friends are leaving town for the summer leaving Jane by herself to watch soaps, infomercials and eat junk food. Jane has some bright spots to her summer. With her mom gone, Jane’s father softens. He buys her an unwanted puppy. She gets the digital camera out and takes pictures of the dog. After her father leaves on a business trip and makes Jane suffer through a baby-sitter things actually improves. Large, purple-clad Ethel becomes the beacon in Jane’s summer. Ethel shows Jane that loss and death have meaning, even when the meaning remains unclear.
Needless to say, I really liked this book. This wasn’t Lizzie’s story, yet the pain that she lived with seemed real. Jane’s ping-pong of emotions were portrayed realistically. A good story.
182 pages, Grades 5 – 8.