Monday, February 18, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: The Voice of the Xenolith

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Title: The Voice of the Xenolith
Author: Cynthia Pelman
Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing, 2015. 214 pages (in paperback)
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher's Blurb:
Thirteen-year-old Amethyst does not get on with her teachers. Her classmates think she is weird. She prefers to be on her own, and she wishes she did not have to go to school. Amethyst reads detective stories, collects fossils, loves archaeology, and is writing her own dictionary. She has trained herself to become an expert in tracking, searching and following clues, and she uses these detective skills to search for someone who was murdered seventy years ago. Amethyst reaches out across time and space and in doing so finds her own voice among the many meanings of silence.

My Review: 
I picked up this book because it seemed to fit a theme being explored on the Goodreads group Great Middle Grade Reads; i.e., girls in science. To some degree, that is true, as Amethyst is definitely interested in archaeology and geology. She is also dealing with a history of selective mutism (oddly, this is the second book I've read recently dealing with that--not sure what's up with that!).

In the end, I'm not sure how to classify the book, nor exactly what I thought of it. It deals with identity, with having a sense of self, with history, and with memory--in this case, remembering victims of the Holocaust. It also deals with the struggles of an extremely intelligent girl with an unusual upbringing to integrate into a normal school setting, which not surprisingly doesn't go well. I do wish that books like this could maybe not have so many clueless teachers, but at least she does find one who is willing to meet her where she is and go on from there.

I did like that she's very bright, and doesn't end up having to be forced into behaving like other girls (the author doesn't even try to pretend that deep down all girls like that stuff, which too many books do, I think). And the story was engaging, so that I read through a lot of it in a single go (and not just because I was reading it on the plane).

My Recommendation:
Because of the Holocaust elements, I'd recommend for 10 and up--old enough to deal with what Amethyst discovers about the person she is researching. It definitely has the potential to open up some interesting discussions, as well as just being an enjoyable read.

Full Disclosure: I borrowed an electronic copy of The Voice of the Xenolith from my library, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."    

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