Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Keeper of the Night

Holt, Kimberly Willis. 2003. KEEPER OF THE NIGHT. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0805063617 [Suggested Grade Levels: 5-8}.

On the island of present-day Guam, Isabel and her family are dealing with the recent death of her mother. As life continues to go on, Isabel grimly moves through each day scribbling in her notebook the experiences of daily life in her family. Isabel finds that life keeps interrupting her sorrow as her friendship with the best female cock-fighter Terecita grows stronger, her father’s fishing assistant flirts with her, and her aunt tries to teach her the skills to become a healer. It is Isabel who keeps the family together, the best that she can as a 13-year-old girl, while her father stops speaking and her brother begins to hurt himself out of anger. As events come to a climatic rise, each member of the family, including Isabel must come to terms with the loss of mother and work together to overcome the grief that has encompassed each of them.

Through the use of the main character’s notebook, this story comes to life in a very intimate and personal way. It is as if Isabel is allowing the reader to peek into her heart, her mind, and her soul through the glimpses that are provided into her notebook. The characters in this story come to life on the pages of the book as the reader is given a personal view of each family member through the eyes of Isabel. A story that deals with a tough topic, the death of a parent, Holt does an incredible job of forgoing sordid details and getting right to the focus of the story: how the family left behind moves beyond grief. It is not an easy journey, but the broken pieces left within this family are picked up one at a time and glued back together.


Learn about the island of Guam.
Keep a personal notebook recording events and experiences that happen each day.
Learn more about the author.
Compare the “healing” abilities of Aunt Bernadette to modern-day medicine.

Other books dealing with death and loss:
Paterson, Katherine. BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. ISBN 0064401847.
Schweibert, Pat et al. TEAR SOUP. ISBN 0961519762.

Other books about family:
Horvath, Polly. EVERYTHING ON A WAFFLE. ISBN 0374322368.

Other books by Kimberly Willis Holt that could be compared to this one:

By Kirsten Murphy

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