- Trace by Pat Cummings
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-269884-1 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-269886-5 $8.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
Theodore Raymond Carter (“Trace”) survived the car accident that killed his parents, but the details—the deer coming out of nowhere, the crash into the river, Trace’s mysterious escape—haunt him as he tries now to adjust to living in Brooklyn with his aunt. Then a school project brings Trace’s attention to the 1860s and the Colored Orphan Asylum fire of 1863, and he finds a ghost residing beneath the former asylum/current main branch of the New York Public Library. A family tree in this novel’s front matter extending back to the mid-nineteenth century will be readers’ first clue to the role family history might play in Trace’s present; Cummings then marries a chillingly gothic tone to the palpable realism of Trace’s reluctant therapy sessions, new-kid awkwardness, and mourning. Readers will appreciate that Trace’s project is ultimately a success, whether it’s truly academic or emotional, but the journey is an important one.