Quicksand Pond

"No one needed a hidden, half-forgotten pond more than Jessie that summer, and right from the beginning--their first day on the raft--Terri Carr seemed the perfect person to show it to her."

Jessie Kettel "was in a separatist mood that year, her twelfth, and in a state of irritation with everyone around her." When her family rents a rustic seaside cottage with a pond in Rhode Island for the summer, she sees the pond as her place, especially since her "pathetically nice" beautiful older sister gravitates toward the ocean beach and the teens she finds there, her little brother is absorbed with a new friend, her writer father is distracted and her mother is notably absent, back home in Pittsburgh, working day and night.

Jessie discovers an old raft, and a local girl, Terri, discovers her. Terri regales Jessie with stories about long-ago quicksand drownings and murders and wrongful arrests. Jessie is intrigued but also wary--Terri lives in a broken-down house with a violent, alcoholic father, and Jessie's never sure how much to trust her. As the summer and their friendship progresses, Jessie grapples with ethical questions: Is it all right to use the tools from a senile old woman's shed without her knowing? Is it fair to accuse Terri of stealing Jessie's father's laptop just because she's needy and has a shifty look about her? Mysteries from the past begin to overlap with present-day puzzles and, in spite of herself, Jessie begins to distance herself from Terri.

Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle (Newbery Honor Book Afternoon of the Elves; The Art of Keeping Cool) is a beautiful, realistic story about trust, self-doubt and judgment. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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