Fifteen-year-old Zeeta has been moved by her flighty but loving mom to a different country every year since she was born. When they arrive to spend the year in Ecuador, she doesn’t expect this stay to be any different than the the others. However, she hadn’t bargained on meeting Wendell, a boy adopted as a baby by a couple from Colorado, who has come back to Ecuador to search for his birth parents. Zeeta, all the while trying to pretend to herself that she doesn’t like him quite so much, agrees to help Wendell in his search and the pair soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery that leads them down many unexpected roads.
Zeeta is a likeable, intelligent narrator and her character’s evolution into a caretaker for her mother and for others around her is believable. The host of secondary characters, from a kind couple they meet who act as makeshift grandparents for children in the area to a quirky woman who works in the marketplace, are vividly imagined. While the ending was a bit too neat for my liking, this well-paced story, dashed with a magical element here and there, was engaging and suspenseful. Additionally, a second novel about Zeeta and her mom, entitled “The Ruby Notebook” was just released this fall, so those that enjoy this first one will be glad to hear there is more to come!
-Brooke Faulkner, McArthur Public Library