by Hautman, Pete

Stuey and Elly Rose, who are both nine years old and enjoy exploring the nearby woods, become best friends until a family secret results in Elly's disappearance.

Pete Hautman is the author of many books for young adults and adults, including the National Book Award–winning Godless, the Klaatu Diskos trilogy, and Eden West. His most recent book for middle-grade readers is Slider, which Booklist lauded for its “crystalline prose, delectable detail, and rip-roaring humor.” Pete Hautman divides his time between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Stuey lives behind an overgrown golf course, more wild now than manicured. At its center is a deadfall, with bent trees forming a shelter. On his ninth birthday, Stuey meets Elly Rose at the deadfall, which is a special place for both of them. A true friendship is born. Two years go by with Elly Rose unknowing that her and Stuey's past is connected by their great-grandfathers, who despised-and perhaps murdered-each another. When Stuey shares the news on their eleventh birthday, the force of the old history literally rips the universe. Stuey sees Elly fade away, and in his reality, people think she's been abducted or murdered. Later, readers learn Elly is in alternative universe where it's Stuey who has disappeared. Explaining the implications of concurrent realities is not an easy task, but one Hautman handles skillfully. His fluid writing and lush descriptions of the natural world carry the story, even when questions of how and why remain. Readers will race to the end to learn how it all untangles. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Stuey and his best friend, Elly Rose, both 9, share a birthday and love of the wild woods until a discovery rips them apart, landing each in a world from which the other has disappeared. Before he died, Gramps, Stuey's grandfather, showed him where the woods have overgrown the swanky, country-club golf course Stuey's white great-grandfather, a former bootlegger, built. He disappeared there long ago, while embroiled in an argument with the Jewish district attorney investigating him, their mutual hatred fueled by anti-Semitism and class bias. Stuey lives in the old family home with his artist mother, who's opposed to selling the woods to a developer. He meets Elly Rose when her family, new arrivals, invites them over. Like Stuey, she's explored the woods, discovering a hollow clump of dead trees, the deadfall, where each has heard voices whispering. The two steal away to the woods, spin stories, and grow a unique friendship. They're soul mates. But when Stuey shares an ugly sec ret that touches both families, Elly Rose vanishes and his world changes: Once allies, her bereaved parents now support leveling the woods. Without Stuey, Elly Rose's world changes for the worse, too. Each longs to reconnect, but how? Shy Stuey and just-short-of-bossy Elly Rose are likable, their friendship believable and moving. Infused with the magic of the unknown, the eerie wilderness entices them, and readers, inside. An intensely atmospheric ghost story and elegy for a vanished world: spellbinding. (author's note) (Paranormal adventure. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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