Thursday, October 10, 2013

Guest Reviewer Jon Koons on the young readers novel The Girl Behind the Glass by Jane Kelley

"Girls! No one had said that word in the house on Hemlock Road in an awfully long time.
A woman stood on the front porch behind a curtain of rain, calling out to somebody. Could she be talking to actual girls?
There hadn’t been any humans living in the house for over a year. Oh, people drove by to stare. Boys threw their rocks at Halloween. A few ran all the way up to the front porch and boasted they were brave. Sometimes in the spring, when it wasn’t so gloomy, people considered moving in. Men tramped through the rooms and asked about the electrical wiring. Women hoped to find charming details under the peeling paint. There was a fancy hall tree mirror by the front door. For some reason, no one liked to see their reflection in that cracked glass.
Then, just as summer was ending and the chokeberry bush by the front porch was tinged with red, a man hurried through the rooms. He didn’t even look in the attic or the basement. Soon after that, workers replaced the broken windows and swept up the trash. Painters covered the gray walls with white. Furniture was dragged in. The front hall filled with boxes. Only the lazy mice were glad—humans made it so much easier for them to find food. The spiders hated having their webs swept away. After all these years, the bats and some others just wanted to be left alone.
And yet everything could be different if girls were in the house.
“Come unpack!”
There hadn’t been any yelling in the house either. There had been screaming. And shrieking. And gasping. And that odd, strangulated flutter from the back of that old man’s throat. But there hadn’t been any yelling like only mothers could do.
The woman had bright orange hair, cut so short it stood up. Her earrings were feathers and bits of cloth. She wore denim trousers, like everybody always did these days. Her shirt had been pieced together in odd and colorful ways. She didn’t look at all like a mother. But she was. She was so angry; it was easy to know her thoughts. She was thinking how much work she had to do before her family could sleep in the house that night. She was thinking those girls were plenty old enough to help. She was thinking she hoped it wasn’t a mistake to move to this house on Hemlock Road.
“Stop hiding in the car!”
A silver car was parked in the driveway, not far from the hemlock trees. Rain rattled on its roof. The fogged windows made it difficult to see in or out. But there they were, two girls sitting side by side on the backseat.
The girls both had long noses and straight brown hair, cut just above their shoulders. They were identical twins. That was the most wonderful way to have a sister. No one could be jealous of the other when they both had very green eyes.
They wore denim shorts and shirts with red words. The blue shirt had a drawing of a pigeon and the words PARK SLOPE. The orange shirt had a drawing of a squirrel and the words PARK SLOPE. The girls looked like they were eleven—the most perfect age for them to be.
“Hannah Anna, I’m losing my patience with you!”
One twin was thinking that she didn’t recognize that yelling woman. Someone must have put an evil spell on their mom.

The other twin was wishing she had paid attention to the roads. Then she could drive them back to Brooklyn.
Which one was Hannah? Which one was Anna? Knowing their minds didn’t help. Most people never said their names with their thoughts.


What happens when a family is forced to temporarily move into a repeatedly abandoned house while their new home is being built? What happens when two twin sisters begin exploring? A ghost, that's what.

The Girl behind the Glass is a Young Adult novel written by Jane Kelley. Focusing on the relationship between twin sisters Anna and Hannah, eleven years old (the requisite age for all young heroes and heroines to this post Harry Potter world), the book explores what happens when twins begin to develop their own interests, stretching the bond between them. When they are separated into different classes of their new school, Anna makes friends easily, whereas Hannah has a harder time of it. Hanna sees her sister's new friends as rivals for her affection, so although Anna tries to include her, Hannah will have none of it. As Anna socialized with her newfound friends, Hannah withdraws more into her books and the house in which they are staying, rumored to be haunted.

As the story unfolds, Hannah discovers that not only is the house home to her mom and dad, annoying older sister and estranged twin, but also mice, bats in the attic, and, in fact, a ghost. Gradually the ghost makes herself known to Hannah and the reader, through her own thoughts.

The Girl behind the Glass, although often light in tone, is a dark exploration of the psyche which should make young readers think. The characters come to terms with numerous emotions, frustrations and new awarenesses which both kids and adults can identify with. There are also family relationships, adventures, mischief, books, school and moral issues to contemplate. Jane Kelley has created an engaging story with a winning mix of suspense, humor, daily life and creepiness which should well satisfy her intended readership. Proficiently written, with skillfully crafted characters and situations, this is a tale well told, and amounts to an enjoyable read for kids and adults.

Jon Koons

Author, Producer, Actor

JON KOONS is an author of both fiction and non-fiction, children's books, novels and short stories. He has also penned scripts, text books and articles for periodicals.

Jon Koons is also a contributor to Weird Tales! The Fairy Tales Issue is now being read and will be reviewed in the near future. BRH has been given permission to use sample material from the Summer 2013 Issue prior to that final review. Selections are made by me and do not reflect any significance in relation to my review... This review has been selected as a book I think might be of interest to BRH readers...

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