|When impossible happens
Author: Suza, Jane de
During the pandemic lockdown in India, almost-nine-year-old Swara's irrepressible spirit helps her come to terms with the death of her grandmother and solve a neighborhood mystery.
Kirkus Reviews (-) (02/01/23)
School Library Journal (-) (04/01/23)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2023 An almost-9-year-old girl recounts the early COVID-19 lockdown period in India and solves a crime while grieving her grandmother in this middle-grade novel. Swara does not believe that her grandmother is truly gone; she's simply missing, likely in hiding, and Swara must hunt down the clues to find her. This coping mechanism for grief manifests in her obsession with the flashing lights across the street in the sari shop, and she enlists her friends, neighbors, and family in helping her get to the bottom of it. Told in short chapters, this is a pandemic book that features grief but doesn’t drown in it. In this much-needed fictional account of a non-American country during lockdown, De Suza perfectly captures the voice of an overeager 9-year-old, with tones of The Westing Game's Turtle Wexler and a sweet, interwoven story about how hard grief can be to combat. While the plot is not evenly distributed between grief and mystery, young readers eager for longer chapter books and international stories will enjoy stepping into Swara’s shoes. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2023 Gr 3–5—An Indian child seeks truth during the chaos of lockdown and loss. Swara narrates the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic from her home city of Bengaluru, India. During the confusion and fear of those first weeks, she suffers a deeply personal loss. To cope, Swara rebrands life challenges into a series of mysteries to be solved, leading to the possibility of solving an actual crime in her very own neighborhood. Swara is an engaging narrator in a cast of distinctive characters that bring Swara's neighborhood to life, even amid a global pandemic. The characters' authenticity shines during scenes of online school with a compassionate teacher hearing the very real concerns of children living through COVID-19. Humor keeps readers engaged through clever wordplay: Swara's mystery-loving grandmother calls Swara "Little Miss Marble," while her best friend Ruth, who crowns herself the neighborhood reporter, calls her broadcast, "The Ruth of the Matter." However, the overall arc of the story gets weighed down by multiple dynamic story lines: the loss of a beloved family member; the terror of an unknown virus and the resulting unprecedented lockdown; a new puppy; and the strange happenings at night in the empty shop across the street. The result tangles readers in a web of problems that feels overwhelming, even with resolution. VERDICT A welcome perspective on life, loss, and current events that will engage readers in the beginning but might lose their interest by the end.—Casey O'Leary - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.