Right off the bat I'm going to let you know that I love everything Becky Citra writes. She is a former school teacher who has her finger on the pulse of what students in elementary school like to read. Her series, Jeremy and the Enchanted Theatre is perfect for youngsters, (especially boys) who are just stepping up to reading chapter books. After the Fire and Never to be Told are two of my readers favorite Canadian titles. I may be biased, but I don't think so, and neither do the members of our book club who speak in awe of Finding Grace.
Beware, this review contains spoilers.
Finding Grace is set in the 1950's. It's the story of Hope, an eleven year old girl who writes letters to an imaginary friend named Grace. Flora, her depressed mother, is unable to hold down a job so they have to move in with Hope's grandmother. There is no father in the picture. When Hope's grandmother dies they are nearly destitute.
A number of things happen to change their circumstances. They find a life insurance policy Grandmother left for them. A photograph of a girl named Grace arrives in the mail. Then they find a collection of photographs of her, one for every year of her life. It turns out that Grace is the name of Hope's twin sister. When they were two, Grace contracted polio and was hospitalized in an iron lung. Because she needed more care than Flora was capable of giving her, Grace was given up for adoption to a nurse at the hospital. This is what has led to Flora's ongoing depression.
Hope realizes that her mother needs to find out what happened to Grace. So the two of them set off to Harrison Hot Springs where the photograph originated, in hope of finding her. While everything doesn't end the way you might expect it to, it is a very satisfying read.
What I loved about this book:
Becky Citra has captured the essence of a small tourist town in her rendering of Harrison Hot Springs. These are people who care about each other and are willing to help out when needed.
You can't help but come to care for these characters. They are rich, multidimensional and loaded with surprises. I loved Flora's transformation when they were in Harrison Hot Springs. I loved how Hope struggled with the ethical dilemma of lying.
While this is set in the 1950's, aside from Grace's bout with polio, the historical references are understated, but still there.
This book is set in Vancouver, BC, and the outlying areas; in our neighborhood more or less. These geographical markers, help us make connections to ourselves and at the same time, help us come to an understanding of who we are as a people.
I can't wait to read what Becky Citra has next up her sleeve.