The Way Back From Broken
Booklist Reviews 2015 September #2
*Starred Review* Keyser's debut novel is an exquisite and enthralling exploration of loss, love, and healing. Rakmen, 15, is stuck going with his mother to what he calls the "dead baby club," a support group both for parents who have lost their children and for surviving siblings. Rakmen's baby sister, Dora, died in his arms, and he blames himself for not noticing that she was in distress until it was too late. The newest members are Mrs. Tatlas, his science teacher, whose child was stillborn, and her 10-year-old daughter, Jacey, who is immediately drawn to Rakmen. Though he has an uneasy relationship with the girl, since any brotherly feelings he has for Jacey remind him of his dead sister, to his surprise, he finds himself traveling to Canada with Jacey and Mrs. Tatlas and embarking on a long-distance canoe trip, paddling and portaging through the wilderness. Whether Keyser is describing sensations, like holding a baby or riding the rapids in a canoe, or Rakmen's palpable grief—"a sludgy wave of pain"—she does so with evocative language and a delicate touch. With a cast of diverse and well-rounded characters, poignant relationships that never become schmaltzy, and a compelling high-stakes adventure, this vivid, moving exploration of grief and recovery hits all the right notes. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Spring
After the death of his baby sister, fifteen-year-old Rakmen reluctantly attends a support group where he encounters his similarly grieving science teacher and her ten-year-old daughter. The three take a camping trip in Canada where an impulsive canoe excursion takes a dangerous--and captivating--turn for the worse. This raw, tense novel explores and affirms the many painful manifestations of grief.