Between the Lighthouse and You

Farrar. Sept. 2021. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374314507.
Gr 4-7–Every April, for the past eight years, on the anniversary of her mother’s funeral, Alice loses her voice for several days. The loss of her mother in a boating accident left her confused and desperate for answers. Her sister is too young to remember their mother, and their father has seemingly moved on with his new companion, Neesha. But Alice is stuck. She spends hours combing through her mother’s academic notes and letters, and when her father gives her a journal he recently discovered, Alice finds references to a planned interview with John Mercury on Aviles Island. Residents on this island off the coast of Florida purportedly receive written messages from deceased family members each year. What did her mother learn about the island? If she goes there, could she receive a message from her mother? After convincing her family to take a vacation to the island, Alice meets Leo, whose family manages the lighthouse. He is a cautious boy who wants to protect the magic of Aviles Island. Gradually, the two become friends and unite in their efforts to find out what really happened to Alice’s mother. This suspenseful story, alternating between Alice’s and Leo’s perspectives, is beautifully written and captures the agony of unresolved grief. Lee provides rich detail on the physical landscape of the island, and each chapter slowly reveals answers to Alice’s many questions, leaving readers eager for more.
VERDICT This compelling story tackles weighty issues related to death and the afterlife, so it is better suited for more mature middle grade readers and young adults, especially those who may be grieving their own losses.

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