Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur (NY: Random House Listening Library, 2011).
Middle school changes everything for Elise. She loves her Uncle Hugh and Aunt Bess, who've taken care of her ever since her dad died when she was three. She never knew her mother, who died when she was born. She's always loved playing make believe with her best friend Franklin, but now she's starting to feel like she needs to grow up a bit. Her locker partner makes fun of her from day one and smashes her lunch in the locker every day. She can't get a handle on the homework either, and then even her home life gets disrupted when a distant relative and her baby move in. Everything seems off kilter. Then Elise finds a key with her name on it in the barn that unlocks an attic room, one of eight rooms that have always been off limits to Elise. The rooms and their contents, left for Elise by her dad before he died, are just what Elise needs to regain her bearings in her widening world.
This novel takes a while to get going, or so it seemed in the audio version. Another difficulty was distinguishing between Elise's thoughts and her statements as they were being narrated. It's probably fairly apparent in the text (italics or something like that), but wasn't in the audio. Still, the story is well worth the effort. Elise is a wholly realistic character who struggles with her perplexing feelings, especially about her best friend Franklin. The adults in her life, including her absent father, provide excellent guidance and the overall effect is touching and wise. Highly recommended for ages 9 & up.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.