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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Garland is a young adult coming of age novel written by Martha Keltz. Sondra Everett and Amanda Davison were embarking on a grand and somewhat terrifying adventure. They had taken the train from New York City, changed trains in Pittsburgh and were now in Hughmont, a small town in Western Maryland. Their lives had been through a great deal of upheaval in the past year. Nadine, their mom, had died, and Sondra, who liked to be called Sunny and was eighteen years old, had been granted guardianship over Mandy, her eight-year-old half-sister. Mandy’s father, whom neither sister had ever met, had left two properties in town to the sisters. Mr. Donovan, the lawyer handling their affairs, had set up accounts for them where they would have access to the proceeds of their mother’s insurance policy.
Their house, a tidy brick dwelling with a small front porch, was bright and clean. Sunny quickly decided on giving the larger of the two bedrooms to Mandy, figuring that it would make a perfect ballet studio for her. Next, she would have to find a ballet school for her sister, or, failing that, a teacher who could continue Mandy’s studies. Their initial fears about the move seemed to ebb away as they explored their new house and decided to share the pizza Sunny had noticed in the freezer. They almost felt as if they had come home.
Martha Keltz’s young adult coming of age novel, The Garland, is one of those evocative and spellbinding stories that entice the reader to stay and continue reading, and might even engender thoughts of moving to that little town that Sunny and Mandy make their new home -- I know it did for me. One can’t help but get involved in the two sisters’ lives, especially in Sunny’s as she seems to sacrifice so much of her own youth in her concerns for Mandy’s schooling and dance training. Keltz’s plot is engaging, and her writing style works perfectly with this 1980s tale. Her characters are finely drawn and credible. The astronomy, nature and ballet that form the backdrop for the story make reading this coming of age tale a richly textured and very enjoyable experience. The Garland is most highly recommended.