Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Riverland

"Someday... our real parents will come for us." This is what Eleanor and little sister Mike tell themselves when the fighting between Poppa and Momma gets too loud. "Some days" the sisters can "sense trouble coming. Other days, like the weather," it catches them "by surprise." But, as long as they follow the rules, "house magic" will protect them and make everything perfect again, erasing all signs of trouble. Unfortunately, although Eleanor always works to do the right thing, nothing ever happens as she plans. "Adults [are] unpredictable. And there [is] no right answer. Only something in between right and wrong."

When a magical river appears under Eleanor's bed, the sisters fall into the land where dreams and nightmares are born. The river is leaking into the real world, and if left untended, nightmares will break through the cracks. Eleanor and Mike discover that there is a generations-old family agreement to act as guardians of the boundary--it's now their turn to fix the leaks and keep the nightmares at bay. But, as Eleanor asks herself, "How do you patch holes in dreams? In families?"

With her middle-grade debut, award-winning author Fran Wilde (the Bone Universe trilogy) depicts two girls attempting to make sense of the emotional and physical abuse they suffer from and witness every day. Wilde approaches the difficult subjects of domestic violence and emotional abuse with the care and respectful treatment that they deserve, using the fantastic to symbolize and illuminate the complex emotions her characters experience. About courage and truth overcoming denial and fear, Riverland is an important book. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor