27 Magic Words
By Sharelle Byars Moranville (Author)
Apart from the title “27 Magic Words”, there is no magic in this gently moving, well-paced story and the reality of a child deep in denial eventually coming to terms with her parents’ death. Ten-year-old Kobi and her older sister live in Paris with their grandmother, enjoying a seemingly privileged lifestyle: they are homeschooled by a tutor, dine on gourmet meals prepared by a housekeeper, and wear fashionable French clothing. While Kobi misses her parents, whom she believes to be on an extended ocean voyage, she can see them whenever she wants by uttering one of the 27 magic words her mother gave her before she and Kobi’s father left five years earlier. A move to Iowa to live with her uncle leaves Kobi struggling to adjust in every way possible: to school, to a new culture, to a much less luxurious lifestyle-and eventually to the realization that her parents aren’t coming home. Told from Kobi’s point of view, this character-driven novel does a remarkable job of allowing readers to see the world through Kobi’s eyes, both as a five-year-old believing in her parents’ magical abilities and as a 10-year-old surrounded by adults who are coping with their own heartbreaks and traumas. Secondary characters are portrayed equally deftly, and even minor characters come across as living, breathing individuals.
This book is a gem. The masterfully crafted prose engages young and adult readers alike. Kobi is a compelling main character whose difficult emotional journey is ultimately satisfying and hope-filled. The supporting characters are engaging, too.
Also available from Public and School Libraries’