NOVEMBER 6, 2017 - KIRKUS REVIEWS

BOOK REVIEW: MAINE ROOTS RUN DEEP

In the latest installment of Mularz’s (White Flutters in Munich, 2015, etc.) middle-grade series, a young girl’s cryptic, psychic dreams suggest a mystery to solve.

Andrew Madigan’s archaeological assignments have taken his family from Italy to Germany, but then he takes a sabbatical, which means spending a year in Maine with his parents. Fifteen-year-old Ellen had to leave friends behind in Europe, but she continues to have the unusual dreams that she had there; twice before they’ve revealed clues in the past for her to investigate. At her grandparents’ house, she has a new dream before school starts, about a young Native American girl named Katetin and the hardships that she and her Abenaki tribe endured. Ellen doesn’t immediately know what mystery the dream is revealing, but she’s certain that there is one. In school, she tries to befriend the unpopular Gwen Hardwick and is quickly besotted with muscular, French-accented Laurent Fletcher. But Gwen is harboring a family secret that causes her to reject Ellen’s efforts to get close, and it seems that Laurent already has a girlfriend—maybe. Meanwhile, Ellen’s dreams about Katetin and her lineage inch toward the present day. Months pass, with instances of happiness and tragedy, but Ellen remains determined to solve the puzzle—if she can figure out what the pieces are. Mularz makes sure that her recurring protagonist’s most remarkable quality isn’t her psychic gift, but her empathy: Ellen is miserable when Gwen has problems at home, and she shares others’ happiness—even mean-girl Becca’s, who never masks her disdain for Ellen. Although it’s fun to watch the protagonist decipher her dreams, the mystery remains elusive, and each step in the solution generally entails simply waiting for the next dream to occur. There is, however, a thorough resolution to the story by the end. Ellen’s narration exudes sincerity, as when she describes a snowy winter: “I feel like I inhabit a cold, dark world, lit by electricity and warmed by burning wood.” A bittersweet ending leaves room for a fourth outing in the series.

A winsome tale of a girl whose paranormal gift is only one of the traits that makes her exceptional. 


June 21, 2017


May 22, 2017 - Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

My short story, "The Souk" was named a finalist for the 2017 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award.

 


November 30, 2016 - “Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards”

White Flutters in Munich - Book Critique

"Ellen is a likeable character and well-rounded. The plot is interesting and creative. The surprise at the end came unexpectedly."

In 3 out of 6 categories (Voice and Writing Style, Character Appeal and Development, Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar), it was rated "5" (Outstanding.)

 


NOVEMBER 1, 2015 - KIRKUS REVIEWS

 BOOK REVIEW: WHITE FLUTTERS IN MUNICH

The Madigan family relocates to Munich, where another long-buried mystery awaits them in the second of a series aimed at preteen readers.

Fourteen-year-old Ellen Madigan senses there’s a mystery to be solved as soon as she enters the house her family has rented for the year in Munich. Ellen is learning to trust her psychic ability, awakened in her previous adventure, which connects her to people from the past. New readers to the series shouldn’t worry; Mularz (Upheavals at Cuma, 2014) gives enough background information to keep them from feeling lost. Ellen soon learns that two young women died in the basement of the house during a bombing raid in World War II. But when she begins dreaming of one of the women, Liesi Falke, Ellen senses there is more to her story. With the help of Basti Hofstetter, the handsome boy next door, Ellen discovers that Liesi and her friend were medical students helping transport young children to the countryside, out of the reach of the Nazis. The two girls faked their deaths to escape Germany, but there the trail goes cold. As she tracks down clues to their fates, Ellen immerses herself in local culture, learning the language and trying new foods and traditions. Mularz sensitively addresses Germany’s Nazi history, emphasizing the complicated feelings of present-day Germans about their past. “Hitler haunts us,” Basti tells Ellen. Ellen’s dreams depict Nazi Germany and reveal a little-known aspect of the resistance movement. While she unravels the historical mystery, Ellen juggles her growing crush on Basti and her desire to become more independent. A confident girl who loves science, Ellen is a terrific role model, but her natural doubts and insecurities also make her relatable. Occasionally, her psychic abilities too conveniently reveal the next clue, but a hefty amount of old-fashioned detective work provides balance. Digging into family secrets proves surprisingly suspenseful, and the end packs a satisfying emotional punch.

A captivating read infused with a sense of history and culture.