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When 12-year-old Jessie and her family rent an old cottage for six weeks in a remote area, she finds a wooden platform—a dilapidated raft—floating on the nearby murky body of water ominously named Quicksand Pond. She witnesses a man chasing a girl her age. Jessie helps the girl escape the man by letting her get on the raft.

Jessie and the girl, Terri, become friends despite their contrasting family situations and histories. Terri tells Jessie stories about what has happened on and around Quicksand Pond—two boys mysteriously disappeared, a wealthy couple was murdered in their mansion, and a man was wrongfully accused and sent to prison for decades until he died. Terri also tells Jessie that the wealthy couple’s child, Henrietta, now an old woman, still lives in the mansion.

As the girls float on the pond and fix the raft on the shore, Henrietta watches, her memory shifting from the past to the present and back again in one fluid stream. One day she escapes her caregiver and goes to the girls, telling them she is counting on them, though they have no idea what she means.

When a crime is committed on Henrietta’s property, Jessie must face her own prejudices—so much like the intolerance that Terri has faced—and is shocked when she realizes how close she came “to changing the story just enough” to make someone else take the blame.

In this captivating juvenile novel, author Janet Taylor Lisle has created a realistic world fraught with danger and evil, but also with compassion, love, friendship, and justice. It explores the intolerance and discrimination each person must confront in his or her own sinful heart and shows how wrong judgments can have consequences for generations to come. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

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