Surrounded by secrets
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.
As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.
Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.
Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write. (Goodreads.com)
This is the kind of book that made me fall in love with reading as a child. It has the simple bits of magic and mystery that took me away to a different place. The characters are flawed and a bit tragic. The reader gets to peel back the layers to see where they came from and who they really are. Roo is a little girl that I had sympathy for but she doesn't play the role of a victim. Despite her incredibly difficult childhood she is determined to survive. When she is taken to live with an uncle she had never met her curiosity about her unusual new home trumps her fears. As she begins to explore she discovers that the new people in her life have their own ghosts to deal with. Her uncle is complicated and she rarely sees him but she does begin to discover his secrets. She also meets two boys who she forms quit different bonds with that are cemented by their common interest in a hidden garden.
Nature is an important influence in this story. The beauty of the island is described so well and it's what begins to comfort a withdrawn little girl. And as she begins to nurture plants and animals she begins to heal herself. The mysteries give her purpose but the island gives her hope. My own visit was cut short as the end of the story came too soon. This book isn't just for the young but also the young at heart. It was a delightful read and I look forward to more from this author.
Thank you to Macmillan for the ARC for me to review.
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: 2/28/12
Pages: 192 (hardcover)
Type: middle grade fiction