Tuesday, December 22, 2009
by Clay Carmichael
juvenile realistic fiction
Honesdale, Pa. : Front Street, c2009
Zoe is amazing! She is eleven-years-old (practically twelve!). She has fended for herself from a very early age. Her mother had mental issues and drug issues and man issues creating a lot of instability in young Zoe's life. Zoe learned quickly that the library was a safe haven where she could escape her mother's moods and her arguments with a long succession of boyfriends. After her mother dies, Zoe goes to live with her Uncle Henry, a man she had never heard of until then. Henry is the half-brother of the father Zoe never knew. Uncle Henry is quite a character unto himself. He was an excellent heart surgeon (and a famous one too) until he decided to pursue an art career instead. Now as a successful, yet reclusive scrap metal artist, Henry takes on his young niece with a ready heart. Zoe, however, has a hard time trusting anyone. Why should she trust Henry, he is just going to leave like everyone else in her life ever has! Zoe quickly becomes entranced with a stray cat hanging around, wanting him to trust her enough to come in the house and be petted. Little does Zoe know that she and the cat have a lot in common. The cat has trust issues as well. Zoe needs to learn to trust herself first, then everything else will fall into place. The story is tole mainly from Zoe's point-of-view, with a few chapters from the cat's perspective interspersed. This gives the reader a chance to see the similarities in both characters and how they grow out of their fears.
So many characters and surprises make this novel rich and full of life. The author has created such a strong girl in Zoe that I loved her instantly and wished I had known someone like her when I was young. A definite contender for the Newbery award this year, Wild Things,will be near the top of my list.