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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Kami Garcia
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The River Witch

The River Witch - Kimberly Brock This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between ClassesCover Impressions: The cover is pretty but were I to see it on a bookshelf I am not sure that it would stand out enough to entice me to buy it. The Gist: Former ballerina Rosyln Byrne lost everything that defined her in one fell swoop. She has retreated to a remote Georgia island in the hopes that solitude and serenity will allow her to patch up her broken life. Instead she finds herself in the middle of another shattered family and in the path of a little girl desperately seeking something magical.Review: Every summer I tend to feel the urge to dive into the world of magical realism. The River Witch falls into that category, but also offers up something unexpected. The setting of this novel makes for a fantastic summer read. It left me longing for a big old house with lots of history and a river with more than a little danger. As the days start to stretch, the thought of retreated to an island and escaping the stress of everyday life is more than a little tempting. This is not a novel with a fast paced plot and the story clearly falls on the character's very capable shoulders. Rosyln has an impressive voice and her pain is almost palpable as she reflects on losing her child and the life she left behind in her mountain home. The music from her homeland weaves in and out of the narrative, binding it beautifully together. Ten year old Damascus is outspoken, precocious and utterly charming. She is especially broken by the loss of her mother and her father's inability to fulfill his role as caregiver. While searching for answers inside a pumpkin seed, she and Rosyln slowly allow themselves to open up to the idea of being cared for. This is not a novel for the thrill seeking or action obsessed. The plot unwinds slowly, like a lazy afternoon, and wraps itself around your heart. The writing is beautiful and gentle, occasionally erupting with witty moments (usually through Damascus). Brock weaves a story of regret and eschews the easy, romantic route that sometimes defines this genre. There are no storybook endings here, but what the reader does get is a much more realistic portrayal of human nature and the strength of history and family. A stunning debut novel and a wonderful addition to anyone's summer reading.