Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Keeper of the Night

Keeper of the Night

Fall 2003 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Kimberly Willis Holt
ISBN: 0-8050-6361-7
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Without a whimper of self-pity, Isabelle began picking up the pieces of her shattered family's life almost immediately after her mother killed herself. Because the family is Catholic and lives in a provincial culture on Guam, the way the woman died intensifies her husband's and children's loss. Each deals with her sin as well as with her demise differently. A sister begins wetting her bed. A brother uses his knife to carve angry words into the bedroom walls and furniture. Isabelle sells soft drinks to the tourists. Their father doesn't speak.

On its surface, life is almost the same. The book is so smartly written that we barely know the family's grief until it lessens sufficiently for us to bear. The chapters are short - two pages at most - and powerful as a keen machete.

The local language and legends of Guam are here. The sights, smells, sounds too. Creative readers will come to know each character as she or he comes to know his or her own peace. And tenderness. And humor. Written with skill that is breathtaking.

Diana Huss Green   ©2003 Parents' Choice

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