“Readers will be entranced by this exceptional offering.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“By turns a mystery, a thriller, and an adventure, this richly woven story will provide much for readers to tease apart long after it’s finished.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Thought-provoking and intense.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A survival story in its truest sense.” —BCCB
The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this captivating mystery from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart.
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, asks Lizzie where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin.
Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their special spot where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives.
When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.
Lizzie's mom has been diagnosed with cancer and needs treatment, and she asks her 13-year-old daughter where she wants to spend the summer. Lizzie chooses to be with her uncle Davy at his renovated schoolhouse cabin in the Adirondacks. Despite her worry over her mother, she is excited to spend time with Uncle Davy, a television star who specializes in antiques, and her friend Matias, an El Salvadoran boy who suffers from proportionate dwarfism and paints beautiful watercolors. Addressing a mysterious listener directly, Lizzie relates the unexpected events that unfold: the kidnapping of her friend and uncle by two convicts escaped from the nearby prison, the steps Lizzie takes to rescue them, and the terrible aftermath of the crime. Lizzie is an honest, heroic character who is fascinated by biology and the world around her. Kephart's novel features passages told in stirring poetic language and with a sophisticated, descriptive tone: "The shadows between the trees beyond the lake are not always bears or wolves or rats or snakes. The end of the world isn't always the end." Lizzie's story of friendship and family is also one of literary depth; readers will be entranced by this exceptional offering from National Book Award finalist Kephart. Ages 10 14.