After experiencing a shocking, life-altering event, 12-year-old Dulcie Dixon is brought to Shepherdsville, Ohio, to live with her aunt Bernie. As if Dulcie’s sorrow isn’t enough to bear, she’s also lost her voice as a result of the trauma. She feels disoriented and alone, her words jammed inside her.
Dulcie attends Redeemer Baptist church’s Sunday services with Aunt Bernie, who also makes her go to the youth Bible study group. There, Dulcie is bullied. For solace, she goes to a pond behind the church where a pair of swans with five cygnets grace the water. In the silence, Dulcie finds peace and beauty and a safe haven in her storm.
When Reverend Love, the church’s new pastor, introduces Dulcie to Faith, a runaway girl in his care, and Evangeline, an African-American woman who is maligned by the community, Dulcie begins to find her home among them. And when an unexpected series of events lead to death and destruction in her safe haven, Dulcie loses much, but gains even more.
In this emotionally charged juvenile novel, which contains several instances of profanity, young readers will encounter in Dulcie a protagonist who has suffered much at a young age and who has overcome obstacles and found healing through the love and support of a little-known family member and strangers who become friends. They also will see how she deals with questions of spirituality and life after death by synchronizing biblical truths with myths attributing spiritual powers to creatures. Still, Dulcie’s struggles are those of many in today’s world, and her story is a worthy read. Though recommended for children ages 8-12, the book is better suited for children 12 and older as it sensitively deals with several weighty topics, such as suicide, racism, bullying, and abuse. (Beach Lane Books)