Genre: middle grade novel
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the “Indian-ness in her blood,” travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents. Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a “potential lunatic,” and whose mother disappeared.
Critique: Newbery Winner. Creech uses a cunning structure. She enlivens a road trip with Sal’s storytelling so the reader flows backward and forward between past and present, but is never jostled. Those who’ve read Creech’s Love That Dog already know she is the master of concealment. Tragic deaths or terrible secrets all come out in the bitter end. The revelation in this novel arrives in the last chapter and it hits the reader harder than a car crash! But the bitter is balanced with the sweet. For instance, the romance between Sal and a boy at school is sweet, even as it leads to a first kiss (a blueberry kiss, no less).Voice shines throughout the novel. Sal’s voice enthralls the reader with delicious details. Phoebe’s voice is infectious and sooo thirteen!