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Keeper of the Night

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Keeper of the Night

“In a series of exquisitely presented snapshots, a young teen struggles to cope with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. . . . Stunningly beautiful. ”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred“Readers are drawn into...
“In a series of exquisitely presented snapshots, a young teen struggles to cope with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. . . . Stunningly beautiful. ”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred“Readers are drawn into...
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  • “In a series of exquisitely presented snapshots, a young teen struggles to cope with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. . . . Stunningly beautiful. ”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred“Readers are drawn into Isabel’s world and her determination to keep on going in the face of her overwhelming loss and responsibilities. ”—School Library Journal, StarredAn ALA Best Book for Young AdultsA School Library Journal Best Book of the YearA Kirkus Reviews Editor’s ChoiceA Parents’ Choice Gold Award

  • From the book

    A Dutiful Daughter

    My mother died praying on her knees. Her rosary beads were still in her hands when we found her. She left no note, said no good-byes, gave no last hugs or kisses. Only the empty bottle of sleeping pills that had rolled under her bed proved that she'd meant to leave.
    I found her first. But I didn't know she was dead. I thought she was praying.
    That morning, I eased her door shut, tied on her apron, and made breakfast for my little brother and sister. I felt proud to scramble their eggs and butter their toast.
    Later I tied blue ribbons in Olivia's hair and dipped the comb into a glass of water before parting Frank's. I had no idea it was the first of many mornings I'd be doing that.


    After my mother died, my father couldn't bear to look at the front door of our home. I overheard Tata tell my mother's older sister, Auntie Bernadette, that he saw my mother's ghost standing by the door. That's why we're staying with Tata's sister, Auntie Minerva, in Tamuning.
    "Just for a little while, Isabel," Tata told me the day we moved here, but it's been five long months. I asked Tata why we couldn't stay with Auntie Bernadette in Malesso. She lives a few houses away from us. But Tata said, "Bernadette is . . . was your mother's sister. Not mine."
    Tamuning is north of Malesso. Stores and restaurants line the streets. All night long, I lie in bed and smell spicy scents from the Thai restaurant across the road. I hear cars pass on the highway. Sometimes a siren whines, reminding me of the morning the ambulance carried my mother away.
    We're stupid staying in Tamuning while our lives take place in Malesso. Everyone we know lives there--Auntie Bernadette and Uncle Fernando, my friends, our dogs. Our store is there, Frank's school, and my father's boat. We're like clubs trying to be hearts in a stack of cards.

    Rides to St. Cletus

    Each weekday morning, before the sun rises, Tata slips out of Auntie Minerva's house and heads to Malesso to feed our dogs and spend the day fishing. Later, Auntie Bernadette drives from Malesso to pick us up for school because Auntie Minerva claims she's too busy with the church. Before taking Frank to the public school, Auntie Bernadette drops us off at St. Cletus in Talofofo.
    This is Olivia's first year at St. Cletus. She's in second grade, and my father believes when girls get old enough to notice boys, it's good for them to be surrounded by nuns. I'm in eighth grade. The nuns can't stop me from looking.
    Auntie Bernadette has no kids of her own and is old enough to be my grandmother. Even though she was born with a crippled hand, she's one of the most respected suruhanas on Guam. Auntie heals aches and pains and helps barren women become pregnant. She drives with her right hand, or, as she calls it, her good one. As if the other hand that stays folded, pressed against her chest, is the bad one.
    Auntie Bernadette talks the entire way to Talofofo, and in the afternoon she picks us up and talks the entire way back to Auntie Minerva's house.
    Olivia likes Auntie's talk because she gets to hear about how Mrs. Cruz's daughter is going to have a baby, but no husband, how Mrs. Santos spent her entire paycheck at bingo, how Roman's mom poured a pitcher of water on Roman's hungover dad and he just rolled over and peed on the couch. Olivia knows more gossip than any seven-year-old at St. Cletus.
    One day I tried to remember what my mother said during our daily trips to and from school, but I couldn't remember a single word. My mother lived in a world of her own--a world filled with sadness that I couldn't see.


    My school friends, Delia and...
  • AudioFile Magazine Thirteen-year-old Isabel has become the emotional centerpiece of her family after her mother's suicide. Vivian McLaughlin's exquisite presentation allows the reader to experience, not only Isabel's sorrow but also her slow healing. The novel's format of short vignettes also brings to life the people around Isabel and their responses to the tragedy. McLaughlin shines when the other characters reflect realistic responses to the suicide, including grief, anger, and guilt. McLaughlin's smooth narration is completely believable as that of a teenager. Bringing the listener vividly to the island of Guam, Holt's text incorporates the occasional Chamorro word. This beautifully plotted story of sorrow and recovery will appeal to a wide audience of teenagers. E.J.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
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Keeper of the Night
Keeper of the Night
Kimberly Willis Holt
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Kimberly Willis Holt
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