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Monday, May 12, 2014

Seven Stories Up, written by Laurel Snyder. Random House, 2014. $18.99 ages 9 and up

"All the while I was thinking: Magic?Magic? It was happening. To me, Annie Jaffin. I'd fallen into a dream, a story, the past. Mom hadn't told me anything about this place, but now I'd get the chance to explore it myself. 1937! What would that be like? Flappers? Were flappers from the thirties? Or Marilyn Monroe? I looked up. Molly was watching me intently..."

Although I knew that this book was described as a companion story to Bigger Than a Breadbox, I didn't immediately make the connection. I had to go back and read what I had written about the first book to realize that Annie is Rebecca's mother, and we have gone back to her childhood. It surely doesn't alter the enjoyment of reading the second not to have read the first. Perhaps reading the two at the same time would make the connections easier.

It is a story about family with a little involves time travel. It is a tale well-told, with characters who will resonate with its intended audience. The writing is exemplary, encouraging me to reread some of my favorite parts. It is original, filled with talk between generations and emotions that are truthful and enlightening. The relationships developed are strong and satisfying.

When Annie and her mother travel to her ill grandmother's home, she knows little about the older woman. Grandmother continues to live in the old family-owned hotel where Annie's mother grew up. When they do meet, she finds her grandmother to be bitter and very angry about most things. In fact, she blames Annie and her mother for much of what has befallen her. Tired out by the conflict, Annie retreats to her room, dons a mask and falls into a deep sleep.

When she awakens she finds that she has traveled 50 years back in time. The girl she meets there is Molly, her grandmother. Annie does not give herself away. She learns that Molly rarely leaves her room, kept there because of continuing illness and a father's concern. The two become immediate friends; together, they set off on a series of escapades that are brand new to Molly. Annie has knowledge of a future that her grandmother cannot imagine. Thus, she is unafraid to encourage Molly to find out about the greater world.

Their relationship helps both make discoveries about their own lives, and the way they want to live in the future. To that end, Laurel Snyder's newest story works well, and gives readers a hopeful conclusion.

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