So good. Crying-in-public good. Such a touching portrayal of grief and the many varied ways humans respond to it--with anger, with blind hope. Also funny! So yes, I laughed, I cried, I want more from Victoria Piontek.
— Summer at Books Inc. Laurel Village
“Wrapped in prose as mysterious and lovely as a southern breeze lies a story about loss that haunts, and the ghosts that help us heal. This story is a treasure.”—Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic
Sparrow doesn't have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there's something "unusual" about her.
But Sparrow's not lonely -- she has a best friend who's always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him . . . because the Boy is a ghost.
So when her mama passes away, Sparrow doesn't give up hope. After all, if the Boy can linger after death, then surely Mama can return as well.
But the Boy has a secret of his own, one that Sparrow will need to uncover before the ghost will lead her to Mama. To solve the mystery, Sparrow joins forces with some unlikely allies -- Maeve and Johnny, siblings from a family of town outcasts --and Elena, a visiting child fortune-teller.
With its loving depiction of small town life, and characters who feel like old friends, this magical debut will enchant you, dazzle you. . . and make you feel at home.
About the Author
Victoria Piontek spent her childhood on the east coast of Florida listening to her mother’s stories of strong southern women, family secrets, and ghosts. She now lives in northern California. The Spirit of Cattail County is her first novel.
Praise for The Spirit of Cattail County:
“With gorgeous prose, an eerie historical undercurrent, and a lush, larger-than-life Florida backdrop, Piontek not only delivers a taut exploration of fractured small-town dynamics, but an entrancing, compulsively readable mystery. Sensitive readers with a yen for all things supernatural will hungrily sleuth their way through this atmospheric debut.” –Booklist
"A moving quest for comfort, understanding, and acceptance set in the marshes of Florida. Sparrow is not like other children, she has the gift, or curse, of seeing spirits. After her mother passes from illness, Sparrow asks her best friend—a ghost no one else can see—to send a message to her mom. Sparrow is in need of friends, family, and everything else she seems to lack. Her challenges throughout the book will resonate with pre-teens and those who have ever lost a loved one or felt they were completely alone. The author also delves deep into the roots of life in Florida, with descriptive sensory details throughout the story. Readers can feel the mud squish beneath their feet as characters walk through the marshes, and smell the salt in the air as the wind blows. VERDICT A melancholy, but ultimately uplifting, story about overcoming sorrow and finding one's place in the world. Hand this to readers who crave sad stories."--School Library Journal