Divorce separated Rigel from her dad and beloved home in Alaska’s remote interior; now living in Connecticut with her mother and sisters, she clings to his promise: If she sticks it out for a year, she can return.
Willow, 14; Rigel, 11; and Izzy, 5, were raised off the grid in a two-room cabin without electricity or indoor plumbing and were educated by mail—a life their parents, Bear and Lila, chose. Living with Lila’s mother suits Willow and Izzy. Grandma’s nice, her home’s amenities (a TV room, appliances, four bathrooms!) are amazing, and school is fun. Rigel, on the other hand, detests the noise; the orange, light-polluted night sky; and the fake, plastic, urban world her father also despises. At school she feels like an exotic outsider, a target for a posse of mean girls. When her one tentative friendship sputters, Rigel despairs until she befriends an injured crow behind the school. Aware that taming wild animals puts them at risk, Rigel still can’t resist feeding and naming it. Blueberry reminds her of Alaska’s ravens and provides companionship when Bear’s postcards and calls taper off. Rigel’s family is White; a Native Alaskan community and several secondary characters of color are respectfully, if briefly, portrayed. The clichéd mean girls excepted, characters are believable and engaging. Rigel herself—homesick for her old life, uncertain (and ambivalent) about how to navigate this new one—is sure to resonate with young, housebound readers.
A likable, timely debut.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020