Review by Booklist Review
Gr. 7-9. Thirteen-year-old Sal Hiddle can't deal with all the upheaval in her life. Her mother, Sugar, is in Idaho, and although Sugar promised to return before the tulips bloomed, she hasn't come back. Instead, Mr. Hiddle has moved Sal from the farm she loves so much and has even taken up company with the unpleasantly named Mrs. Cadaver. Multilayered, the book tells the story of Sal's trip to Idaho with her grandparents; and as the car clatters along, Sal tells her grandparents the story of her friend Phoebe, who receives messages from a "lunatic" and who must cope with the disappearance of her mother. The novel is ambitious and successful on many fronts: the characters, even the adults, are fully realized; the story certainly keeps readers' interest; and the pacing is good throughout. But Creech's surprises--that Phoebe's mother has an illegitimate son and that Sugar is buried in Idaho, where she died after a bus accident--are obvious in the first case and contrived in the second. Sal knows her mother is dead; that Creech makes readers think otherwise seems a cheat, though one, it must be admitted, that may bother adults more than kids. Still, when Sal's on the road with her grandparents, spinning Phoebe's yarn and trying to untangle her own, this story sings. (Reviewed November 15, 1994)0060233346Ilene Cooper
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 6-9-In this Newbery Award book by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins, 1994), 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle travels west with her Grams and Gramps to Lewiston, Idaho, the destination from which her mother did not return. As Sal entertains her grandparents with stories of her friend, Phoebe, who sees "lunatics" around every corner, threads from many life stories are seamlessly entwined. This pilgrimage wonderfully mirrors the journey of discovery that is adolescence, as Sal's search for the truth about her mother becomes a journey of discovery about much more. In vividly described incidents both humorous and poignant, everyone's "story" is told. The reading by British actress Kate Harper is crisp and well-paced, so that the layered, complex style doesn't confuse listeners. Harper creates appropriate and wonderfully individual voices for everyone, especially the irrepressible Phoebe. The rhythms of the reading effectively reflect the rhythms of the story's back and forth motion and its lyrical language.-Mary Arnold, Medina County District Library, Brunswick, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
While traveling from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents to visit her mother, who left the year before and has never returned, thirteen-year-old Salamanca Hiddle tells them about her new friend, Phoebe Winterbottom, whose mother also left without explanation. Although occasionally contrived, the novel movingly portrays a young girl's struggle to resign herself to life without her mother. From HORN BOOK 1994, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
During the six days it takes Sal's paternal grandparents to drive her west to Idaho in time for her mother's birthday, she tells them about her friend Phoebe -- a story that, the 13-year-old comes to realize, in many ways parallels her own: Each girl had a mother who left home without warning. The mystery of Phoebe's more conventional mother's disappearance and its effects on her family and eventual explanation unfold as the journey, with its own offbeat incidents, proceeds; meanwhile, in Sal's intricate narrative, the tragic events surrounding her mother's flight are also gradually revealed. After Sal fell from a tree, her mother carried her back to the house; soon after, she bore a stillborn child. Slowyly, the love between Sal's parents, her mother's inconsolable grief, and Sal's life since her departure emerge; last to surface are the painful facts that Sal has been most reluctant to face. Creech, an American who has published novels in Britain, fashions characters with humor and sensitivity, but Sal's poignant story would have been stronger without quite so many remarkable coincidences or such a tidy sum of epiphanies at the end. Still, its revelations make a fine yarn. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.