By Portia Tan
By Ally Condie
Published by Dutton Children’s Books
No. of Pages: 249
Available at major bookstores
Set in Iron Creek, Utah, Cedar Lee spends the summer in her mother’s hometown, a year after the car accident that took the lives of her father and younger brother, Ben. Little things reminding Cedar of Ben mysteriously appear on her windowsill. A strange boy named Leo Bishop cycles past her house, and introduces her to the Shakespearean festival hosted annually by the town. She starts work there, helped by her enterprising new friend, who convinces her to team up with him to give unofficial tours about the town’s theatre heroine and her mysterious death.
This is a story with an interesting take on death, and places emphasis on family, new beginnings, and most importantly, friendship.
We all deal with grief differently, and the introverted Cedar tries her best to be a good older sister to the only brother she has left, Miles, and the selflessness of this twelve-year-old is simply endearing. In contrast with enthusiastic Leo, who dreams of going to London, and is obsessed with Lisette Chamberlain (the hometown star of the Summerlost theatre festival), the unlikely pair complement each other perfectly.
Written in three acts, the short, yet extremely detailed chapters still manage to be a riveting and lovely read. The tender, child-like innocence presented by Ally Condie throughout is a breath of fresh air, and this book shows the honest day-to-day dealings with grief – and is more than enough to keep one reading to the end.