Wednesday, June 18, 2014

13 Gifts (2011)

13 Gifts. (Willow Falls #3) Wendy Mass. 2011. Scholastic. 341 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Tara Brennan is the heroine of Wendy Mass's 13 Gifts. It is a companion novel to 11 Birthdays and Finally. It is set in Willow Falls. Tara's mom and dad were born and raised in Willow Falls. They have moved dozens of times since they got married. Tara is tired, very tired, of all the moving. Tara wishes that she had some place to call her own, to be HOME. After an incident at school involving a stuffed goat in the principal's office, Tara is "sent away" to Willow Falls to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. This cousin, Emily, was first introduced in Finally. Emily was Rory's first babysitting job. Tara just happens to be the same age as Rory, Leo, and Amanda. All characters introduced in previous books. The group soon realizes that Tara belongs, that she too has been chosen by Angelina d'Angelo. Tara is given a task, a big task, a can't-handle-it-by-herself task to accomplish by her thirteenth birthday in July. She is to acquire what appears to be completely random items from individuals in the town.

The list:
  • One wicker basket with handles in the shape of hearts
  • One gray wool blanket with two-inch red stripes around the border
  • One brass candlestick in the shape of a fish
  • One large white shawl with the initials ER on the left corner
  • One knife with a black handle inside a red sheath
  • A 2-ounce purple glass bottle with a silver stopper
  • One long strand of pearls with a gold clasp
  • One leather-bound copy of the Bible, black, Book of Genesis repeated twice
  • One wooden key with the words "Made in Willow Falls, 1974" carved in the shank
  • One black steamer trunk with gold latch
  • One violin, silver plating on back reads Sam, 1902
  • One bottle of apple wine, 1925, brewed by Ellerby-Fitzpatrick Brewers
  • One wooden cane, handle shaped like a duck's beak
Tara needs friends; she needs friends who are smart and resourceful and who KNOW Willow Falls. Her new friends have ideas and are more than willing to help her on her quest. In addition, readers meet new characters like David, Connor, and Grace.

I enjoyed 13 Gifts. I liked how Tara's quest was about healing the community and righting past wrongs. I liked that Tara--and readers--were clueless about the bigger task until the very end. I liked spending time in Willow Falls. Readers get to spend more time interacting with residents than in any previous novel. It was fun.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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