Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Properties of Water

A while ago - probably longer than I realize- Hannah Anderson McKinnon contacted me to review her new book, due out on October 26. For once I have actually read it prior to its publication date. Of course, I started it last night and haven't been able to put it down, sneaking in a page or two between classes and reading the last little bit over lunch.

McKinnon has one other book to her credit, Franny Parker, which I loved when I read it this past spring. McKinnon's sophomore novel is equally as wonderful.

As Properties of Water opens, it is obvious that things in Lace's home are not as they should be. Her mother and sister are living in Portland, while she and her father remain at home. Through bits and pieces it is revealed that Lace's sister, Marni, is the victim of a swimming accident and is in a hospital in Portland. While the events of the accident are not revealed until near the book's end, it is very evident that Lace feels guilty for what has happened to her sister. And that she is not able to go on with her own life while Marni is away. And yet Lace does not want to see Marni in the hospital, avoiding taking a trip to Portland. Instead she avoids the water, refusing to do one of the things she loves the best. She and her best friend have a falling out. And she thinks the woman they have hired to help care for their house, and eventually Marni when she returns, is actually a thief.

Lace learns a lot about herself, does a lot of growing up, and begins to have a more grown-up perspective on things.

This is fantastic realistic fiction. While Amazon lists it as a young adult novel, I would place it more in the 5th-9th grade area. For just a brief moment The Properties of Water reminded me a bit of a novel I loved in highschool, Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt. However, no one should mistake The Properties of Water for anything else because it is truly its own story and just wonderful all by itself.


brizmus said...

sounds fabulous and super sad!

Jessica said...

I just finished THE PROPERTIES OF WATER myself and agree, it's a magnificently written, tender story that is both sad and beatiful. Here's one of my favorite descriptions--in one of the more touching scenes: "Beth Ann stares at Jade through her magnified-vision water goggles. Her eyes are the size of soda bottoms, large and glowing." It's a short sentence that is perfect for a middle-grade or tween reader, and yet is still so evocative.