By Kirkus Reviews
Ten-year-old Winna Cole can see ghosts—and they’ve got a mystery for her to solve.
When Winna hears the crunch of her glasses breaking underneath her sister Tupelo’s butt, she literally cannot see how she’s going to enjoy her time in Vandalia. Fortunately, Grampa Carl held on to a pair of spectacles that belonged to her Great-Aunt Estelle, and they help her communicate with her ancestors on a magical journey to save her mom and herself. You see, as she escaped slavery, Winna’s Great-Great Grandmother Winona’s firstborn son, Key, was stolen. Her grief was so great that she unwittingly cursed her family to the Burden of the Coles: They will have ill health and no rest in death until Key is returned to her. Now Winna’s mother’s health is failing, and when Estelle’s ghost reveals that Key is still alive, it’s up to Winna to find him and bring him home. Shawl imaginatively winds suspense, humor, and loss in this story that shows how the past isn’t so far behind us. They also spotlight the troubled blood connections that chattel slavery created across different races and across the country. Through Winna’s family, readers see the importance of oral storytelling: The book celebrates it as a shining beacon for those of us who still have elders who can tell stories while offering space to mourn traditions and loved ones we’ve lost.
Provides a new lens to explore histories that can haunt and help us.