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Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn t expect her arrival will affect him much or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.
Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won t make them go away.
Will Tally s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 30.
- Review Date: 2009-08-03
- Reviewer: Staff
Meissner's The Shape of Mercy was a PW best book for 2008, but her newest doesn't measure up. The Janvier family takes into their Southern California home the abruptly homeless Tally Bachmann, 16-year-old daughter of Bart Bachmann, Amanda Janvier's ne'er-do-well brother, who has gone to Poland to unearth a family mystery. The Janviers are to be understood as an ideal family who slowly come to confront urgent and threatening secrets in their past; problem is, several family members—the emotionally detached dad in the woodshop, for one—are as stereotyped as the titular symbol of idealized family values. Tally and 17-year-old Chase Janvier, around whom much of the story revolves, are nicely realized; Meissner has a sure touch with their characterizations. But plotting problems undermine intended emotional impact: the Polish connection is not credibly presented, a Holocaust connection is likewise hard to believe, and some of the plot resolution is more mechanical than organic. Meissner can write, but here she has overreached. (Oct.)