Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Teenage Sisters Face Murder and Ghosts

After their mother's death, fifteen-year-old Sam and her ten-year-old sister, Ollie, spend the summer living with their father. Their father and mother have not lived together for years, although they seem to love each other. The mother lived with the daughters in Eugene, Oregon. Bear, the father, lived in a meadow keeping bees outside of Terrebonne, Oregon.

Sam has spent summers with Bear for years. Ollie chose to stay with her mother, so this is her first summer in the meadow, and it's not easy. Ollie hasn't spoken since her mother's death because she sees Shimmerings, ghostly figures who follow her around. She knows other people won't believe her, so she doesn't talk.

Coping with their mother's death is difficult enough, but Sam and Ollie find the body of a woman floating in the creek near their meadow. Bear has been acting strange, and he has a jacket that could have belonged to the murdered woman. Sam is terrified that Bear will be suspected of the murder and her tenuous family will be split apart again.

Sam is an engaging character. She tries hard to preserve her family. However, she is a teenager and the decisions she makes are often not well planned and lead to more problems then they solve. Ollie is a strange character. If you like ghost stories, you'll find her Shimmerings fascinating, but it adds an element of unreality to the story that it's difficult to accept.

The family situation with the split between the parents is unusual. Bear comes across as an introverted character who is not well prepared to cope with two daughters. The reasons for the split between the parents aren't clear, but one suspects that Bear can't take the responsibilities of working in a major city and being a committed father living in a family unit.

The setting is beautifully described from the flowers, trees, and bees of the meadow to the colors of the Shimmerings. The plot, however, stretches credibility. The secondary characters from the teenage boy who befriends Sam to his mother, an angry shopkeeper, and his father, a strange artist, are unusual and sometimes hard to accept as real. Likewise, Sam's involvement in solving the mystery and Ollie's seeing ghosts can be hard to believe.

I recommend the book is you like murder mysteries, ghost stories, and unique family arrangements.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.