Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-525-42844-2 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-698-18907-2 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-8
The Montgomery family is cursed. Or half of them are, anyway; ever since their ancestor journeyed through the Okefenokee Swamp two hundred years ago to the golden alligator Munch to “claim a great new fate,” half the descendants of the family have been born with great talents, the other half with curses. Twelve-year-old Blue, one of the unlucky ones, is spending the summer at his grandmother’s house in Murky Branch, GA (population 339) where he meets a girl named Tumble, who doesn’t believe in magic and tries to convince Blue that he can change his fate all on his own. When it turns out that Tumble is as cursed as Blue—her ancestor and Blue’s had shared the great fate and cursed both their families—they decide it’s time to seek out some supernatural help. Narrative asides from Munch detailing the family history and commenting sardonically on the present-day doings of the Montgomerys lend an otherworldly quality to this story of friendship and family. The real center of the novel, though, is the friendship that grows between Tumble, Blue, and Blue’s cousins as they try to take some measure of control over their futures—a desire young readers, cursed or not, will relate to. When Tumble and Blue finally meet Munch, they realize it’s not a great fate they were seeking but simply an ordinary one, and they may well have found it by helping each other do what should have been the impossible.