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Book Review: Signal by Cynthia DeFelice

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Cynthia DeFelice’s Weasel is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it to each one of my five kids. The author has a wonderful knack for creating memorable characters, and she does it again in Signal. Owen McGuire, son of a single-parent household and a father he just can’t connect with, or even find much time to share with, is immediately a sympathetic individual.

Told in first-person, the book progresses nicely, introducing Owen, his dog, and his life in a new town where he just doesn’t fit in. I enjoyed the description of the town. DeFelice has great skill at making a setting an important part of a story, and of finding the best parts of that background to show at the best times. With the way the town is, the reader never forgets how alone Owen is.

Things change dramatically when Owen finds Campion. She’s obviously been injured, though she doesn’t tell him what happened to her, and she’s hungry. Owen shares his food, then starts taking care of the strange girl. Readers can immediately see the bond that shapes up between Owen and Campion, and I thought that progression of the relationship was well done.

The menace materializes soon after, but it doesn’t really manifest as much as I’d thought it might. I was a little disappointed in this, though the climax at the end of the book was suspenseful.

One thing that bothered me was how heavily the plot revolved around Campion being from another world. I thought it was inventive, but almost distracting in the end. Ultimately the story was all about Campion and Owen both realizing what they already had at home, and with each other.

The book is easy to read and touches on a lot of relationship aspects and ideas of individual worth, so young readers will enjoy it well enough. However, it does take time to get to some of the action, so some patience will be required.

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