Cover image for Season of secrets
Title:
Season of secrets
ISBN:
9780545218252

9780545218269
Edition:
1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011.
Physical Description:
225 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
620 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Sent by their father to live in the country with their grandparents after the sudden death of their mother, Molly's older sister Hannah expresses her grief in a raging rebellion while imaginative Molly finds herself increasingly distracted by visions, that seemingly only she can see, of a strange hunt in the nearby forest.
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Summary

Summary

The next novel from Sally Nicholls, author of the critically acclaimed Ways to Live Forever .

Molly and Hannah have just lost their mother, and while Dad "figures things out", they're sent to stay with their grandparents in a quiet country town. Everything is different: there are only ten kids in their entire school; they have to walk home by themselves every day; and a phone call from Dad just isn't the same as a hug. In fact, they're not even sure when, or if, their dad will be back for them. (cont'd)


Author Notes

Sally Nicholls completed an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University (UK). She wrote her first novel, WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER, when she was twenty-three, and it received three starred reviews and was named an ALA Notable Book. Sally Nicholls lives in London.


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Death and birth, then and now, bad and good: Molly is encountering transition for the first time, and the loss of childhood's certainties isn't easy. Molly's mother has just died. Her father has sent her and her older sister, Hannah, to live at Grandma and Grandpa's odd half-house, half-shop, "until [he] gets things Sorted Out. Whenever that is." Caught in an autumn storm, Molly is terrified by a horned huntsman and worried about the bloodied man she finds after the hunt. No one believes her, but after Molly finds the face of "her man" carved in the pillar of an old church, Molly's teacher tells her about the Oak King and the Holly King, who do battle eternally as the seasons change. Nicholls's second novel, following her critically acclaimed Ways to Live Forever and its theme of terminal illness, is an exploration of surviving. Molly's wishes don't come true, and the cycles of nature do not stop just because she cries. But Molly learns, too, that no change is an absolute, and if she can't stop it, she can yet make something of it. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Molly and her older sister Hannah have been sent to live with their grandparents after their mother's death and their father's resulting emotional retreat. Nothing is right. Living above a shop in a poky village with well-meaning but overwhelmed grandparents; attending an unfamiliar school; awkward weekend outings with their depressed father -- it all adds up to a dreary situation that Hannah reacts to with rage and sullenness while Molly tries to please. Things take a sidestep into magic realism when Molly discovers the 'hunted man.' Kind, gentle, and wise, this figure is earthily corporeal to Molly but invisible to everyone else. In sixty short chapters Nicholls handily weaves the European myth of the Wild Hunt, the Celtic characters of the Holly King and the Oak King, and the classical story of Demeter and Persephone into the everyday, middle-grade doings of Molly as she tries to get her world 'sorted' over the course of one long, cold, wet winter. In its fresh re-clothing of mythology and its unsentimental and detailed portrait of a grieving family, this novel is reminiscent of David Almond's Skellig (rev. 5/99), and, like Almond, Nicholls keeps her highly pitched material firmly grounded in sharp observation and a convincing child voice. SARAH ELLIS (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

This atmospheric novel, which draws upon the legend of the Green Man, is a study in grief and renewal, reminiscent of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (1977) and K. L. Going's The Garden of Eve (2007). Molly and Hannah are sisters of wildly different temperaments who have recently lost their beloved mother to an aneurism. In the wake of the tragedy, they are sent to live with their grandparents while their father tries to pull himself together. Molly is a dreamer with a rich inner world, so when she discovers a mysterious man in the woods who is capable of growing flowers and trees at the touch of a finger, no one believes her. Molly, though, is convinced that the man is real and might be able to resurrect her mother. The story's underlying themes focus on how the natural cycle of winter to spring mirrors the emotional healing of a family. Moving seamlessly between fantasy and reality, this title offers a thoughtful, touching exploration of how we survive our darkest hours.--Dean, Kara Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Sent to live with their grandparents after the death of their mother, Molly and Hannah struggle with adjustments and grief. In this gently written narrative, the girls' everyday life is skillfully contrasted with the myths of nature's characters and seasonal cycles. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Guardian Review

Molly and her annoying older sister Hannah have been sent to stay with their grandparents in a tiny Northumberland village until their father sorts things out at home. The sudden death of their mthe girls jittery and lonely. Not even the safe rhythms of the village shop run by grandma and grandpa can soothe the girls back to a sense of safety. Hannah smashes crockery in wordless despair while Molly thinks she's seen a strange man hiding out in a nearby barn. Being an avid reader of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, Molly knows that it should only take her a few days to discover that the man is a jewel thief wanted in three counties. But real life, as she is reluctantly coming to realise, is different from books. Instead, she finds herself increasingly distracted by the legends she's learning at school which tell how, each year, the nature gods battle it out for dominion over the earth's natural cycle. In spring and summer the Green Man reigns supreme, but every autumn he begins to cede his powers to the Holly King. Gradually Molly begins to wonder whether the strange, fraying man whom she has taken to visiting in the barn is none other than the Green Man during his autumnal last days. Sally Nicholls's great challenge in this, her second book, is to graft a story of modern childhood on to one of myth and natural magic. Molly needs simultaneously to inhabit a world of motorway service stations and takeaway pizza and the world of Odin and Persephone. Most of the time Nicholls succeeds, bringing these worlds so closely together that you do indeed believe that Molly is able to step through the membrane which keeps them barely apart. That she is able to do this most decisively at the time of the equinox and solstice only adds to the sense that there is an older, natural rhythm pulsing behind her contemporary concerns about PE kit and Cadbury's Creme eggs. On occasions, though, these points of rupture start to feel contrived. Nicholls is obliged to create moments when Molly is able to see the Green Man while her disbelieving sister and father see only a tangle of wood and leaves. This is done by creating a psychic storm inside Molly's head, which is amplified through thrashing trees and howling winds. The result feels both clunky and muddling. Far more successful is Nicholls's delicate sketching of Molly's emotional decline and rebirth in parallel to the year's natural turning. Her angry despair at being sent away from her father to live in the back of beyond softens into an acceptance of this new way of being. She starts to make friends at school, and even older sister Hannah becomes bearable. Dad, meanwhile, moves through his depression and starts to talk about making a new home for them all. What really makes this a stand-out story is the way that Nicholls creates a heroine whose love of books feels deep and true. Molly is not simply a devotee of Enid Blyton's Famous Five series but of Jacqueline Wilson, too. She has read Peter Pan , but her real heroine is Tracy Beaker. The result is a sharp, modern take on the ludicrousness of classic children's fiction where "it's always obvious who's good and who's bad, and kids can camp out on moors or go to the North Pole or be world-famous detectives aged only ten". Molly knows from the outset that she will do none of these things, yet her passage through a season's worth of emotional growth is, in its own way, just as exciting, and certainly more profound. Kathryn Hughes's The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton is published by Harper Perennial. Caption: article-kidsapr25.1 What really makes this a stand-out story is the way that [Sally Nicholls] creates a heroine whose love of books feels deep and true. [Molly] is not simply a devotee of [Enid Blyton]'s Famous Five series but of Jacqueline Wilson, too. She has read Peter Pan , but her real heroine is Tracy Beaker. The result is a sharp, modern take on the ludicrousness of classic children's fiction where "it's always obvious who's good and who's bad, and kids can camp out on moors or go to the North Pole or be world-famous detectives aged only ten". Molly knows from the outset that she will do none of these things, yet her passage through a season's worth of emotional growth is, in its own way, just as exciting, and certainly more profound. - Kathryn Hughes.


Kirkus Review

Imagination and reality blur as a young English girl confronts the cycle of life following her mother's untimely death. While their grieving father tries to "[get] things Sorted Out," Molly and her older sister adjust to living over their grandparents' shop in a country village where they attend a single-room school far from their friends. When Molly encounters a mysterious stranger one autumn night, she's not sure he's real. Throughout the season, as the nameless stranger appears and disappears, Molly realizes he resembles the Green Man, an ancient pagan god of rebirth she's learned about in school. Molly's sadness deepens until a climatic winter solstice when her stranger vanishes, a new year commences and life gradually improves. In a first-person, present-tense voice, Molly quietly explores her complex relationships with her depressed father, her angry sister, her frustrated grandparents and the enigmatic stranger. Written in gently flowing prose, the plot appropriately transitions from autumn into summer as Molly emerges from grief to acceptance and hope. A poignant story of healing tinged with mystery. (Fiction. 8-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.