Lace Martin is thirteen-years-old and going through the most difficult summer of her life. Living on the lake in Maine, Lace and her older sister Marnie have practically grown up in the water, spending more time wet than dry, and becoming excellent swimmers. When Marnie has a tragic accident after jumping off Turtle Rock with her friends, Lace is left at home on the lake to deal with the accident and the aftermath, refusing to go back into the lake or to see her sister in Portland.
While Marnie and her mother are away, Lace and her father bring in a housekeeper to cook, clean, and prepare for Marnie's arrival back home. Willa is a strange woman who keeps to herself and causes Lace to become incredibly suspicious about why she would even want to come into their family in the first place. What Lace doesn't realize is that Willa is much more than just a housekeeper... she is also the encouragement Lace needs to continue on with her life, even if it is much different than before.
Let me start out this review by saying I read it in one sitting (and in the bathtub with my new Lush bath bombs. Yay!). It was engrossing and beautifully written, and author Hannah Roberts McKinnon got the emotional state of a 13-year-old dealing with tragedy perfectly. Lace was an honest character, one that will stick with you for quite some time, and one that will really touch your heart.
Though tragedy-based stories are common in today's kid lit, The Properties of Water goes much further than simply the story of how to heal. The reader is given a look into the unique aspects of true friendship and true family love, as well as how it might feel to be in Lace's position. I really enjoyed this.
I do have to make mention of the cover...it's the one part of the book that I didn't like at all. I was reading from an ARC, so it may be different on a final copy, but the darkness and blurry girl on the cover turned me away completely. Not sure I would have just picked it up off the shelf.
The Properties of Water
Hannah Roberts McKinnon
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Review copy provided by publisher