It’s not easy to have a private life on a small island. Thirteen-year-old Heather Blake can’t stand the fact people on Tarragon Island know about her family’s traumas practically before she does. The local youth writing group is supposed to help her meet people and improve her writing skills. Instead, Heather finds herself revealing way too much about both her writing life and her private thoughts to kids she can’t believe are becoming her friends. Heather’s new school, a budding romance, serious family illness, a strange crime, and even stranger island residents cause more trouble than she thinks she can handle. It will take all the strength and determination Heather can muster if she hopes to survive and carve out a place for herself in her new island home.
Gr 5-8-A sequel to Tarragon Island (Sono Nis, 2000). Heather Blake, 13, loves to write, and spends almost every waking moment doing just that on her family’s small farm in British Columbia but still misses her old life in Toronto. She joins the Tarragon Writing Youth Group, but doesn’t think she is going to like it because she finds the members a little weird. Then, a telephone call in the middle of the night upsets her entire world. Her grandfather has died, her mother is slipping deeper and deeper into depression, and her grandmother moves in to help but is later hospitalized. Heather’s usually happy-go-lucky younger brother comes apart at the seams because he unwittingly thinks his mother is dying. Two things help the girl through her troubles: trying to solve the mystery of a stolen Russian stamp collection, and surprisingly, the members of TWYG. Tate pulls no punches in terms of this girl’s candor about her situation, but the mystery is not strongly developed. It is how Heather sorts out and deals with what’s going on in her life that makes the story both convincing and interesting, even though the ending is just a little too pat.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary, Huntsville, AL
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