Told in alternating chapters of flashbacks and trial transcripts, this is a complex story of a 16 year old, Aslaug, raised in virtual isolation in rural Maine by her mother, Maren, who claims Aslaug was a virgin birth. Aslaug knows little of the outside world but has learned a great deal about the healing and/or poisonous nature of plants, herbs and flowers. When her mother dies and she tries to bury the body, Aslaug is arrested. This starts a complex series of events in which she travels to a nearby town and meets her aunt, a Pentecostal minister, and cousins who live in a church. When Aslaug becomes pregnant, the family is convinced it is another example of a virgin birth.

There are elements of beautiful and lyrical, descriptive writing, but I found this story difficult to follow. The plot line wanders between the supernatural and religious fundamentalism and may have limited appeal. For those who love a mystical journey with a mysterious twist, this will be a real find. 410 pages Ages 14 and up

ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2009

Recommended by Deborah E. Cohen

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