Friday, March 18, 2016

Applet, Kathi, and Alison McGhee. Maybe A Fox.

Applet, Kathi, and Alison McGhee.  Maybe A Fox.  Simon & Schuster/Atheneum  2016  272p  $16.99  ISBN 978-1-4424-8242-5  elem/ms  Fantasy  VG-BN

Eleven-year-old Jules is fascinated with rocks and collects them for fun and making wishes on as she skips them into the river. Her sister, twelve-year-old Sylvie, is a fast runner and works hard at becoming even faster. The girls and their father are struggling with the death of their mother a few years ago, but the family is learning to adjust to their new normal. The girls try hard to obey their father’s list of Do Nots, but one morning Sylvie feels the need to throw a wishing rock in the river before school, a dangerous act that is forbidden by their father. She disappears and her body is never found. Jules and her father are plunged into grief once more. As Sylvie disappears, a fox kit is born that is Kennen, which means she is spiritually connected to another creature. The kit doesn’t know why, but she is drawn to Jules as the girl tries to figure out why her sister needed to run so fast. One day, Jules figures it out with the help of the fox, and as she tries to throw a wishing rock in the river in honor of her sister, the fox saves her. Jules is not the only one mourning, as a secondary plotline follows Zeke, the older brother of her friend Sam, whose best friend doesn’t return with him from their tour in Afghanistan. Jules and Zeke bond as they try to deal with their losses.

The story is heavy, but is lightened by the alternating perspective of Jules and the fox kit. The struggles of the child as she mourns her sister and best friend and the fading memories of the mother she lost years before are heart
-wrenching. The conclusion is touching, as Jules discovers why her sister felt compelled to run so fast and the enormous grief she, too, carried with her. Recommended.

Summary: Jules is an eleven-year-old who loves to skip rocks in the river. One day her sister Sylvie disappears while skipping a rock in the river, and her body is never found. The same day, a fox kit is born who appears to be half-human.      

Foxes-Fiction, Missing persons-Fiction, Sisters-Fiction  --Stephanie Pennucci

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