The Casas-Treski family has just moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. Ebram is having more trouble than his siblings in getting used to their new surroundings. But soon they all find themselves settled in with new friends and new schools. Although it’s not the home they left behind, Ebram starts to accept it. Then the family notices strange things happening, as someone called Mazie starts talking to the children.
One of Ebram’s new friends, the family babysitter, calls herself a shrouda. The members of this youth group wear distinctive items of clothing, and strive to live their Christian faith by doing good in the world. Ebram like this idea, and wants to also do his part in helping. When he attempts to do something for the community, it backfires, but who is the one who thwarted him?
The author pulls off a nice surprise ending, when we find out who Mazie is – and she’s not at all what we expect. It’s also great to read about kids who want to help others, rather than focusing only on their own wants. But these characters are very hard to relate to. Although this is called Ebram’s story, it’s told from multiple perspectives, and we don’t get to know Ebram as well as we could. And the constant use of the parents’ proper names, Mrs. Casas-Treski & Mr. Treski, rather than simply “mom and “dad,” pulls us out of the action and feels tedious. Overall, this is an interesting plot, but it would have worked better if written entirely from Ebram’s point of view.
Reviewer: Alice Berger