Author: Janet Taylor Lisle
Publisher: New York: Atheneum, Simon and Schuster, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade fiction
Audience Age: 9 to 12 years
Themes/topics: Friendship, family dynamics, rumors, kids and older people
Opening Sentences: The two boys who vanished in the pond that night were farm kids, cousins of some kind. They had the same last name, Peckham. Terri Carr told the story to Jessie the day they met on the raft.
Synopsis: Jessie, the main character, has come with her dad, her older sister and her younger brother, to live in a rundown vacation rental near a pond that has some quicksand areas – but also has an old decrepit raft, that Jessie and Terri begin to fix up.
The process of fixing up the raft both helps them build their friendship, and forge a bond of sorts with the old woman in the big house near the pond. The process also brings into the focus the problems Terri has at home, the false accusations that swirl around her family, the problems Jessie and Terri have with their friendship, and an old, wrongly solved murder that the old woman witnessed as a child when her parents were both killed. It’s the sort of story that draws you in with a quicksand of its own, and shows how false accusations can sink a reputation just as surely as the quicksand that caused the Peckham boys to disappear years before.
As the quote from Kathi Appelt on the back cover says, “One false accusation, tossed like a stone into a pond, creates a ripple effect that damages a family for generations.”
But there is hope. There is always hope.
For Further Enrichment:
The author’s website is here.
There is a reading guide at the Simon and Schuster website.