Lily Dale: Awakening
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Review by Gayle Surrette
Walker Books for Young Readers Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802796547
Date: 21 August 2007 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Calla Delaney had a near perfect life in Florida with her professor father and corporate executive mother. Of course there were the usual problems of school, having the right friends, grades, boyfriends, and having your best friend's brother break up with you. But all that changed the day Calla came home and found her mother dead at the bottom of the stairs -- a broken doll in a pool of blood. Everything changed -- nothing would ever be the same.
Calla is going to spend the summer with her grandmother, her mother's mother, Odelia Lauder in Lily Dale, New York. Calla doesn't know her grandmother. Her mother and grandmother had an argument when Calla was very young. After that Odelia simply disappeared from Calla's life. Calla knew nothing of her mother's childhood, or even her past. Her mother never talked of the past, only the present and the future. So with her father depressed and starting a new post on the west coast, Calla figured, if nothing else, living with her grandmother for the summer would give her a chance to ask about her mother's childhood. However, Odelia isn't your average grandmother; she's a medium living in a village of psychics, mediums, and other assorted weirdos...Calla is sure her father didn't know about this.
However, as much as Calla resists changes, her grandmother is family, the people in Lily Dale are friendly, there are even some cute guys, and there's even a girl her age. Things might not be as bad as they seem, except for the dreams and the people no one else can see.
Staub has created characters that are easy to relate to even if, at first, it's in a valley girl sort of way. But Calla is about as real as they come -- intelligent, caring, sympathetic, confused, and in shock from her mother's death, the funeral, and the changes in her life and family. Every time she thinks she has a handle on things the ground shifts again. Many teens feel that way but Calla has more reasons than most. There's also a lot of woo-woo, hairs standing up on the back of your neck, moments. Staub can charm and draw you in and keep you reading page after page, anxious to find out what's going to happen next. Will Calla find her center again? What will she do? Can she accept her grandmother and her lifestyle? Can she accept the changes that her mother's death have made in her and her father and their life. And more importantly, what will she do with what she's learned?