After her mother leaves home suddenly, thirteen-year-old Sal and her grandparents take a car trip retracing her mother's route. Along the way, Sal recounts the story of her friend Phoebe, whose mother also left. .
"How about a story? Spin us a yarn."
Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. "I could tell you an extensively strange story," I warned.
"Oh, good!" Gram said. "Delicious!"
And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.
As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.
In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.
I read this book eight years ago for a college class. It was a summer class and I only had a few days to read the book. It has always bothered me that I missed something right from the start and I've been wanting to read it again for ages. Last week the audio book was on the shelf at the library so I checked it out to listen to with my children. In listening the second time I was able to see how I missed what I missed the first time and how some readers might not. My son knew right away when I asked him, but his reason for knowing was how he interpreted something about the character that could have meant something else.
I hate to have spoilers when I am reading, which is why I haven't stated what I missed and was looking for in this second reading. I do not want to be the person who spoiled a story for someone else.
I liked how this was a story within a story within a story. There was the story about Sal and her father and mother, the story about Phoebe and her mother, father, sister and the lunatic, and there was the story about Sal and her grandparents and their trip to visit Sal's mother. None of the storylines is told straight through, but they are all going on at the same time through Sal's memory and her present circumstances. It also showed how everyone is not always as they seem, there are layers underneath that thye may be unable or unwilling to share with others, even those closest to them, out of fear. How much of that holds true for all of us, fear can be a big motivator in avoiding dreams and hopes, but without taking a risk we miss out on so much. At one point towards the end of the story Sal is wondering a lot of "what ifs" and comes to realize how if she is always looking backwards wondering how things might have been she will fail to move forward and experience life to the fullest.
•Pub. Date: September 1996
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 288pp
•Age Range: 12 and up