Runaway Twin

By Peg Kehret; Scholastic Books; 2009; pp 197.

Age Group: 10 and up

Plot: Sometimes what you are seeking is visible, but you are unable to see it. That’s the theme coursing through this girl-venture about a young girl who sets off to find her twin sister, from whom she was separated at age 3. This adventure begins when Sunny Skyland finds a large sum of money in a wallet, but only after Sunny does the ethical thing and posts “a lost wallet” notice on Craigslist. The time-honored “finders keepers” rule allows Sunny to pocket the money and, thus, bankroll her desire to find her lost twin. Sunny runs away from her foster parent—the latest, if not the nicest, in an unending series of foster parents. After escaping harm’s way, bullies, and a tornado, Sunny locates her twin. Shall we say, the reunion, is not so sweet. Sunny realizes that her distraught foster mom, Rita,—kooky as she is—is her true family. She realizes that she never had to runaway, and if she had only asked, Rita would have helped her find her twin.

Review: Award-winning author Peg Kehret’s suspenseful adventure will resonate with the younger tween girl audience, but will struggle to hold boys’ and older (12 and up) crowd’s attention. The protagonist is plucky, resourceful, and damn lucky as she runs away from the best foster parent she’s ever known to find her biological twin with whom she was separated at age 3. Tornado, bullies, an overdose of stranger danger, and reckless chances abound in this tale–all tempered and mitigated with instructions on “what not to do” lessons. Older readers will discern the cautionary undertow of this story and may be turned off for that reason. The action is set in modern day, with references to cell phones and the Internet, all of which will be familiar to today’s readers. Younger readers will enjoy the runaway’s determination and bravery. The ending could be a disappointment—the runaway’s twin sister does not live up to her expectations, nor throw out the welcome mat. However, the author throws one parting hook that will stun young readers and doubly earn their respect for the runaway twin as she demonstrates again how to stand up for oneself.

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