Toronto Book Review



In Roberts’ middle-grade novel, we follow the story of nine-year-old Cecilia “CeCe” Laurance as she faces the challenges of starting sixth grade in a new town. CeCe’s anticipation for her first day of school is dashed when she learns that her father has been offered a job at an observatory in Forest Town, Missouri, forcing the family to leave their home in North Carolina. Despite her initial reluctance, CeCe tries to remain optimistic as they settle into their new home, an old house connected to the observatory that is rumored to be haunted.

CeCe’s hopes for a smooth transition are quickly dashed when she encounters Mercedes, the soccer team’s goalie and resident mean girl, who bullies her during practice and spreads rumors about her new house. Determined not to let Mercedes get the best of her, CeCe sets out to uncover the truth behind the ghostly rumors surrounding her home. As she experiences strange occurrences like mysterious voices and unexplained chills, CeCe becomes convinced that there may be some truth to the rumors after all.

Roberts skillfully captures the inner thoughts and emotions of a tween grappling with the challenges of moving to a new town, making friends, and adjusting to a new school environment. CeCe emerges as a relatable and multifaceted protagonist, with interests ranging from soccer to science, thanks to her father’s career as an astronomer. While the supporting characters are not as fully developed, they serve their roles in advancing the narrative effectively.

The mystery of the potentially haunted observatory adds an intriguing layer to the story, although the resolution may not be as satisfying as the buildup. Nevertheless, CeCe’s journey is one that will resonate with young readers, holding their attention from beginning to end. Overall, Roberts delivers an engaging mystery with a compelling protagonist that is sure to captivate its audience.

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