Where to start??? First, this was this year's ALA Michael L. Printz award winner…and I am scratching my head. It is not that it is not a great book, it is, but Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park was ROBBED with just an Honor nod…but I digress. It is a haunting love story, beautifully written and the structure is so different and wonderful…and the last page makes the whole read worth the trip. I just don't see this as the BEST read of the year for teens….I actually am not sure why this is even classified as a teen read at all, the majority of the characters are adults. That aside, it is definitely worth checking out, especially during this month of love, the ending made my heart ache…lovely.
*Starred Review* In the year 2073, a reporter named Eric is sent to Blessed Island to research a rare flower called the Dragon Orchid. There he finds an insular community of mysterious villagers, a delicious tea that has him losing days at a time, and a beguiling girl named Merle. In just 50 pages, we reach a shattering conclusion—and then start anew in 2011. An archaeologist is digging on Blessed Island, where he meets a quiet boy named Eric and his mother, Merle. So begins this graceful, confounding, and stirring seven-part suite about two characters whose identities shift as they are reborn throughout the ages. Sedgwick tells the story in reverse, introducing us to a stranded WWII pilot, a painter trying to resurrect his career in 1901, two children being told a ghost story in 1848, and more, all the way back to a king and queen in a Time Unknown. It is a wildly chancy gambit with little in the way of a solid throughline, but Sedgwick handles each story with such stylistic control that interest is not just renewed each time but intensified. Part love story, part mystery, part horror, this is as much about the twisting hand of fate as it is about the mutability of folktales. Its strange spell will capture you. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus