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Author: Wendy Corsi Staub

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Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: How could this happen? Somehow Calla's always carefully precise mom fell down the stairs and died. It was going to be hard enough moving from Florida to California for dad's sabbatical. Dad wants her to live with his brother's family, but Calla opts to live with her maternal grandmother Odelia in Lily Dale, NY. It is where her mother grew up, so maybe she will feel closer to her mom; but what she learns is that she may not have known her mom at all. This is a mystery with a psychic twist for teen and young adults. This is a high interest / low readability option for mystery lovers.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 11 and Up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 4.7

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: About halfway through book one - which the author donated to the Reading Tub - I ordered the rest of the series for my personal library. The five books, which all-told cover about one year of Calla's life, were devoured in a week. The story is a set of tightly woven subplots about relationships: mother and daughter; father and daughter; friends and boy friends; and how they connect to our past and our present, as well as guide our future.

Calla is the main character, but her grandmother Odelia is what makes the story work. Throughout the story, Calla faces questions about what her life will be like without her mom. As she begins to unravel her mom's history she is drawn to Odelia as a connection to her mom, but also as someone who might help her understand what is happening and how to reach her.

Pros: This book has everything a teen (boy or girl) could eant: fast pace, mystery, characters going through what they're going through, and realism.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow at least. I was so hooked with the first story I bought them all.


Educational Themes: This is a set of stories for recreational reading. That said, it is a perfect choice for a mother-daughter book club or discussion groups.

Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, family, mystery, crime, young adult series

Date(s) Reviewed: January 2013

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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