By: Virginia Zimmerman
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Clarion Books
Audience: Middle Grade - Grades 5-7
Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, this novel has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues. Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam's older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.
Fiction and poetry lovers will certainly appreciate the mystery and book related references that basically make up the entire plot of this novel. I'm also a huge fan of how Zimmerman was able to analyze Shakespeare's works in a way that middle grade readers could easily get a handle on [and this is coming from someone who is not a huge fan of the Bard!]. The friendship between Rosemary, Adam and Shelby is another great aspect of this novel and demonstrates that while growing up and growing apart can happen, it doesn't always mean "the end" either. In addition to the story/poetry elements, Zimmerman also does a wonderful job of tackling Alzheimer's with sensitivity and in a manner that encourages discussion. In terms of getting this in the hands of middle grade readers - it might take a hot minute due to all of the Shakespeare and poetry references, but there is a nice balance of suspense and the friendship aspect will not only allow readers to relate but also keep them engaged, making this a worthy choice.