Keeper of the Night

by Kimberly Willis Holt

Isabel Moreno suddenly feels much older than her 13 years when she finds herself... read more

Isabel Moreno suddenly feels much older than her 13 years when she finds herself responsible for taking care of her siblings and her father following her mother’s suicide. Her brother Frank is handling the loss by with drawing from everyone around him and cutting himself, and her sister Olivia wets the bed. Her father rarely talks anymore and sleeps on the floor rather than in his bed, where the absence of his wife is too painful. Isabel and her family live on the island of Guam and Kimberly Willis Holt writes beautifully detailed descriptions of the landscape and of the cultural nuances of the Chamorro people, all part of the backdrop for the changes happening in Isabel’s life. Isabel is keenly aware of her loss as she faces typical adolescent pressures, from trying out for a sports team to navigating social cliques, dealing with the affections of boys to making sense of her changing body, without her mother. Ultimately, she must learn that living well is as much a tribute to her mother as is trying to understand the woman’s death. Despite its serious themes, this is an altogether hopeful story of one girl’s commitment to balancing the need to take care of others with her need to take care of herself. (Ages 13–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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