by Donna Freitas
This is a book that fits the category of visionary fiction. Teenager
Marlena Oliveira came into the world as a healer. Unfortunately, her mother
uses her for her own gains and by the time Marlena is eighteen, she has led a
life of prayer and healing but knows nothing of the world. She increasingly
questions her gifts and the direction of her life until she seeks out a scientist
who can help her explore her talents. She meets a boy, rebels against the
imposed prison lifestyle her mother requires, and strikes out to find her own
The scenes of Marlena performing her healings are well done and as believable
as mystical states can be described. The teenage longing for maturity and
independence ring true. This is a well-written book. The part that didn’t go
down so well was the all or nothing kind of approach, the author insisted on.
Either Marlena had to choose to remain a healer in the image her mother had
chosen for her or leave the healing world for the mundane. Why? I wonder why
Marlena couldn’t have found her own way of remaining a hands-on healer. Why the
rush for conventionality? Perhaps this choice would require an adult audience?
Too risky for YA? I wonder.
On January 28, 2019, The American Library Association announced its 2019 book award winners. Below are some of the winners.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year’s winner is “Hello Lighthouse,” illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall.
The John Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding contribution to children’s literature. “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” written by Meg Medina, has won this award.
The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults has been awarded to “The Poet X,” written by Elizabeth Acevedo.
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for the most distinguished informational book for children went to “The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science,” written by Joyce Sidman.
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to “The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees,” written and illustrated by Don Brown.
The Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. This year’s winners are “Julián Is a Mermaid,” written by Jessica Love and “Hurricane Child,” written by Kheryn Callender.
It’s getting exciting. I received a shipment of ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) from the publisher this week. After years of work on this book, I can finally hold it in my hands. Very satisfying!!
The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe:
This is a ghost story with historical elements and the required romantic angle for teens. Wes, an NYU summer session student and aspiring film maker happens to meet Annie at a séance where a friend is shooting a piece. She’s alluring and other-worldly and while the reader knows right away Annie is long dead, Wes is clueless. That’s okay. Wes is confused enough being in the city, trying to survive, and fulfill his own dreams finally away from his father’s prying eyes. Eventually, Wes is drawn into helping Annie figure out why she is so out of place and out of sync in the real world.
The novel alternates between the present and Annie’s 1825 reality. The two different New York cities stand side by side as Wes and Annie try to determine what happened and why Annie is caught in between. The author masterfully manages the timeline and the flow of the mystery. Annie is not presented as the typical ghost since she has physical existence, but like most ghosts not everyone can see her. There are some funny scenes as Wes and Annie move about a modern city. Adding to the enjoyment of the book are several secondary characters who are interesting and well-developed. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author pulls off a surprise ending. All and all, a good book and if you don’t watch out, you might just learn a little history along the way!
Just in time for Halloween, here’s a look at my new cover (fantastic work by Anna Spies at Eerilyfair).
The European adventure is over! I’m going home. New house, new community, and a new book release. Are you ready for a ghost story? I’ll be back in Colorado next week and life starts again!