Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little

When her father takes a temporary job in Russia, Shelby Jane is sent to live with the mother who abandoned her family a year ago. Angry and feeling alone, she’s certain living in the heart of the Louisiana bayou is going to be miserable.

Tormented by her classmates, Shelby is relieved to find a friend in Gwen, a mysterious girl living by herself on the bayou. As events unfold, Shelby wonders if Gwen is tied to the blue bottle tree near her mother, Mirage’s house. Painful memories prevent Mirage from talking about the past, and Shelby is still too hurt to talk to her mother about all that is happening. As the past and present collide, can Shelby and her mamma break through the pain of the past year to heal their hurts?

Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little is a family drama filled with secrets, mystery and ghosts of the past. In this haunting tale, Little has blended a superb plot, rich descriptions and well-developed characters to come up with a page turning middle grade novel. The Lil Diva (10) purchased this book at a Scholastic book fair this spring. She loves mysterious stories, and this seemed like it would fit the bill. It also helped that the book came with a charm bracelet.

For me, Circle of Secrets started off a bit slow. I wasn’t truly captivated by the story until some of the pieces started to fall into place. Young people, however, will find Shelby Jane a relatable character whose strained relationship with her mother propels the plot forward during the first half of the book. Shelby is dealing with her anger over Mirage abandoning the family. She certainly has no desire to live with her, but it’s entirely out of her control because her father is temporarily out of the country. This speaks so well to how a young person can feel about the lack of control she has over her own life.

From the time Shelby first meets Gwen, mystery surrounds the girl. The more time they spend together, the more questions Shelby has about Gwen’s ties to the blue bottle tree behind Mirage’s house and why her mamma refuses to go near it. What I truly like about this book is how well Little tied the past to the present, and sometimes in unexpected ways, like the similar games played by kids at Shelby’s school and back when Mirage was growing up. Little ties everything up in a nice, big mysterious bow, and the reader is eager to pull the ties and open up a fabulous story.

The Lil Diva and I read this together as part of her reading requirement for the library summer reading program. She loved the book, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she read it over again at some point.

Mom’s rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Lil Diva’s rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Reading level:Ages 8 and up
  • Hardcover:336 pages
  • Publisher:Scholastic Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10:054516561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545165617
  • SRP: $17.99

We purchased this book at a school book fair. No review was expected. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have received no monetary compensation.

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