The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 25, 2008

Book review: Supernatural, suspenseful books found at library

Hiroshima Dreams

By Kelly Easton

“Hiroshima Dreams” begins in the spring of 1996, when Lin is 5 years old. Her grandmother, whom she calls Obaasan, is moving from Japan to live with Lin’s family.

Obaasan and Lin share a special gift of second sight. Obaasan becomes Lin’s constant companion and mentor and teaches her how to use the ability through meditation on riddle-like stories.

As Lin grows up, her second sight allows her to help the police save a missing boy, warn her sister about a boy who means her harm and see glimpses of Obaasan’s past and experiences at the bombing of Hiroshima.

Easton does a wonderful job writing this book. It is gentle and touching as it kindly and truthfully reveals Lin’s path to adulthood and Obaasan’s experiences at the end of World War II.

While Lin and Obaasan’s abilities are important to the plot of the story, this book is more about Lin growing up and her relationship with her grandmother than about her gift. Lin begins the book as a painfully shy child and through her relationship with Obaasan gains the confidence to make friends and come out of her shell.

This is a good read for teens and adults looking for a heartwarming story filled with glimpses of Japanese culture and intergenerational relationships.

The Road of the Dead

By Kevin Brooks

Set in Britain, “The Road of the Dead” is the story of Reuben (Rube) and his brother Cole on a journey to solve the mystery of their sister’s murder.

Rube doesn’t necessarily have second sight, but he has the ability to cast out and experience the feelings and innermost thoughts of those who are close to him. When his sister Rachel is murdered, he is right there with her — seeing what she sees and feeling what she feels — even though his body is miles away.

The police have leads that they are pursuing, but Cole isn’t satisfied with their efforts, so he decides to investigate for himself. Rube, though not invited, goes with Cole at their mother’s request. Together, Rube and Cole travel to a small town full of secrets, fear and violence.

To solve the mystery of Rachel’s murder, they must fight for every piece of the puzzle and endure brutal treatment by almost everyone they encounter.

The creepy factor of “The Road of the Dead” and Brooks’ simple writing is pretty high. The story is told from Rube’s perspective, which allows readers access to the true feelings and motivations of the other characters.

As with many books like “The Road of the Dead,” for every answer Rube and Cole find, they uncover more questions. The climax of the book begins pretty early (about two-thirds of the way through) and Brooks has a difficult time sustaining the pace, but the solution to the mystery of Rachel’s death and the development of Rube and Cole’s characters along the way are worth the wait.

This is a book for teens and adults looking for a thrilling mystery who don’t mind vivid descriptions of violence.

The Missing Girl

By Norma Fox Mazer

The Herberts have five daughters — Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy and Autumn — who are being quietly stalked by a man who crosses their path every morning on their way to school.

The girls have taken no real notice of the man because he is, in all ways, unremarkable. But he watches their every move, notices their every detail, and agonizes over which one is his favorite.

The Herbert family is in crisis. The girls’ parents have little money and are fast approaching desperation, so they decide to “lend out” Stevie to a distant aunt in order to save money. On the day Stevie is supposed to leave for the aunt’s house, Autumn goes for a walk and doesn’t come back.

Mazer uses the characters’ voices to tell this family’s story, which makes it all the more real and frightening for readers. We know from the very first chapter that the man stalking the Herbert girls is evil and, as the book progresses, we come to know and to love each of the girls.

Autumn’s capture and her “stay” at the man’s house are truly frightening in their realistic portrayal. This book is not for the faint of heart, but is appropriate for teens and adults interested in a frightening tale that is all too real. Though the pace builds slowly, this is not a book that is put down easily.

Cari Boatright is the teen librarian at Joplin Public Library.