Circle of Secrets

Circle of Secrets

Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Scholastic October 2011
Character-Building Curriculum

Shelby Jayne, age eleven, clings to her father's neck as he tells her goodbye and walks away leaving her to live with the mother who walked out without a word abandoning her daughter and her husband. Shelby Jayne's mother, Mirage, lives in the bayou, speaks the language of the bayou and is a traiteur, a healer. There is a huge wall of pain between mother and daughter. Shelby Jayne has been living with her Grandmother Phoebe, a woman of schedules and manners, who has held Shelby close to her. This is the love Shelby could count on. Now she finds herself in a house full of animals on the inside and standing in the shade of a magical blue bottle tree on the outside. In those blue bottles that cast that magical blue light Shelby Jane finds the mystery of a series of notes. "She's dead. She's dead. I'll never forgive myself as long as I live!" reads the note and Shelby begins to try to unravel the mystery. This is a land of alligators and snakes and some of the snakes go to Shelby's school and are girls by the names of Tara and Alyson. Truth or Dare is their favorite slimy game and they bully and push heartlessly trying to enslave Shelby Jayne and any other new student who wanders into their web. Shelby's heart slowly begins to pull away from Grandmother Phoebe and turn to the pain of loving her mother and wanting her mother's love in return. There is something magical about this swamp witch who gently heals broken wings and who genuinely regrets the mistake she made when she left Shelby behind. This story alternates between simmer and boil as Shelby battles the kids at school and struggles to heal her pain and then comes the day she meets Gwen in the cemetery and finds a real friend, someone she can talk to and someone who is struggling with grief of her own. Tension builds and the mysteries swirl as Shelby Jayne begins to put the pieces together and is stunned at what she discovers. This is a terrific mystery story intertwined with the modern theme of bullying and the eternal theme of the relationship between mother and daughter. Would you jump off the pier? Could her mother ever come to love her? Who is the girl with the golden hair? Easily four and a half stars. 326 pages Ages 9-13

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