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The Keening

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Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife. Can Lyza save her father and find her own path in the process?

167 pages, Paperback

Published April 13, 2010

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A. LaFaye

17 books80 followers

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Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Jasmyn.
1,499 reviews20 followers
July 2, 2010
Influenza used to be one of the most dreaded diseases in the world. When Lyza's mother succumbs to the disease, it is up to Lyza, a teenage girl, to take care of her father and prevent the rest of the family from putting him in the work farm for people who are not quite there mentally. Lyza struggles to find a way to save her father, remember her deceased mother's wishes, and figure out who she really is.

The character of Lyza was fascinating. She reminded me of myself so much as a teenager. Knowing where you wanted to go and who you wanted to be, but not having a clear picture of how to get there. I loved the way she related to her mother and father, and was willing to sacrifice anything to save her father from being committed to the work farm.

The story concentrates very much on Lyza and her father, rarely leaving the small world of their family, and then only when necessary. This was the perfect way to write this very intimate story of the love between a daughter and her father, and their search to find their way in a world that has suddenly changed.

Profile Image for Lisa.
77 reviews19 followers
April 20, 2011
The Keening by A. LaFaye proved to be a definite worthwhile read. I received this as a net-galley and was impressed from the start, though the ending was unfortunately a little anti-climatic for me. I can easily see this written as a screen play or for the stage. There is the perfect mix of historical fiction and supernatural edge. I would suggest an edit to use the terms "Mama" and "Papa" instead of "Mater" and "Pater" which were odd and actually distracting familial endearments easily confused among the generations spoken of in the story. Otherwise a satisfying read.
Profile Image for Melody.
2,629 reviews262 followers
May 19, 2010
This book was otherworldly, dreamy and ultimately too full of ghosts and God for me to really dig it. The plot was sound enough, and the telling true-sounding. The characters seemed fairly real and were for the most part likable. But I'm not a ghost story kind of guy, and I was also put off by the last chapter which was All God All The Time.

So- a good story, but not for me.
Profile Image for Cami.
349 reviews10 followers
March 15, 2020
I read this back in elementary school when it first came out, and it's been sitting in my bookshelf ever since. I remember it being sad, but rereading it made me realize just how much of it I missed or didn't fully appreciate a decade ago. I still like the book a lot, but now I think it was very morbid of eleven-year-old me to have read this book!
15 reviews
March 6, 2018
I'm not much for writing book reviews but the characters in this novel really stuck with me. It is a quick read. I loved it so much, I read it in one sitting.
Profile Image for Majanka.
Author 83 books409 followers
December 2, 2011
Lyza’s father is a peculiar man, blessed with the ability to create the most beautiful cravings in wood, and cursed with a feeble mind, often forgetting things as normal as eating, sleeping or other everyday activities. All her life, Lyza’s been used to his behavior, and although she occassionally worries about his strange habits, she isn’t overly concerned, as long as her mother is around to bring her father back to the right track. However, with the influenza pandemic tormenting numerous villages on the coast, Lyza’s family is not left unharmed either. After nearly succumbing to the illness herself, Lyza makes a miraculous recovery, which makes her all the more sensitive to the harm the sickness has caused her community. But then, without any proper warning, her mother gets ill as well. As her mother dies from the illness she survived, Lyza is the only one left to take care of her father.

It proves not to be an easy task, with her father expecting the swift return of his dead wife and insisting on waiting up for her practically every evening. But he does try: he prepares food for Lyza, he protects her as well as he can, etc. As the true nature of her father’s condition slowly reveals itself to Lyza, and old, banished memories resurface, she learns that her father might not be crazy after all.

The Keening starts with a haunting and eerie occurence, namely Lyza seeing a dark shape in her bedroom on the day a funeral march passes by her house. As the mood is set, even though the next couple of chapters deal with Lyza’s family life and her father’s peculiar illness, the book never really loses that haunting and eerie tone. Even while reading scenes from Lyza’s day-to-day life, I was always expecting for something to pop out of the closet, as to speak, or for something scary to happen. That said, the fact that these events didn’t really occur, but that I kept anticipating them, made this book read more like a thriller than anything else. I kept waiting for the bomb to drop and when it finally did, I was certainly not dissapointed. I had expected it, but I was actually quite releived when it dropped – I couldn’t have made it through another fifty pages without any secrets revealed.

The book is written in a dream-like, translucent tone of voice, which is very peculiar, but only adds to the eerie atmosphere set from chapter one. The author mentioned that this book came to her in a dream, and I think that’s very plausible, considering that it reads a bit like that as well. I enjoyed the writing style and although I must admit it might not work for every genre or every book, it certainly fit this one.

Lyza is one of the strongest, most determined and intelligent book characters I’ve ever come across. Even while looking in the face of death, she does not back down. She has the courage and determination most of us can only dream of, and she manages to be there for her father, even when she herself is nearly breaking down. On numerous occassions, the most important one being the death of Lyza’s Mother, The Keening brought tears to my eyes. Part of that was due to the gripping, truthful way the author manages to capture the character’s emotions and the situation at hand, and it was also partly due to the fact that I liked Lyza’s mother so much. I had grown to like her over the course of fifty-or-so pages, and I didn’t want her to die just yet. She made an interesting character, a mother through and through, wise, caring, thinking about everything and always being there for Lyza to rely on.

I loved the fact how The Keening mixed paranormal and supernatural occurences with historical fiction. At the beginning of the story, Lyza loved her father, but she couldn’t really understand him. I’m glad their relationship got better as Lyza, bit by bit, uncovered the secrets related to her father’s life before he met her mother, and the reasons why he is still acting so peculiar now and then. It was heart-wrecking to see her fight to not let her father get taken away from her. I have to admit that I liked the last fifty or so pages best, when Lyza discovered what exactly her father’s secret was. I can’t say that without giving away too much spoilers, but I can say that everything suddenly makes sense then, and that what I had been anticipating from page one (although by then I didn’t know what it would be yet) turned out to be even more scary than I imagined.

If you enjoy horror, not the bloody gore-type horror, but the slow, eerie atmospheric horror that struggles its way into a book, and keeps its presence there from page one till the very end, The Keening is definately a nice choice. I enjoyed reading the book, I loved the characters, and I thought it was great that, besides a scary story, this book offers so much more. It offers a family in peril, a disease slaughtering entire villages, an emotional roller-coaster, and the slight possibility that maybe the supernatural has something to do with it. A great and entertaining read.
Profile Image for Ashlie.
123 reviews5 followers
February 25, 2011

I loved Lyra’s story. She told it in such a clear voice, even though her setting was dream-like, and her circumstances not the happiest. In fact, the depression she describes is so tangible. It feels as though you know what it must have been like to watch as funeral marches passed your house on a frequent basis.

Lyza seemed strong after her mother passed, even though you could read that it was really hard for her. I think my emotions were more overwhelming that those she let on in the book, even though it’s all from her perspective. I was a mess the moment her mother passed and this book moved me to tears more than once. I didn’t sob the loud tears you hide from your husband who’s sitting in the other room watching rugby. They were the soft, peaceful kind, which only strong emotions like love can provoke. I would say the loss of love, referring to Lyza’s mom’s death, but this story really helps you understand that just because someone we love dies, it doesn’t mean that their love for us, or ours for them, does.
I love the mother’s wisdom shared in this tale. It’s a story of family and roots, and finding out which direction to grow. Even though you know that Lyza’s mom is going to pass away from the beginning, it’s still startling when it happens. You’re never really prepared for death, no matter how expected it is. Lyza’s mother’s death cuts the reader deeply, but I found that it helped me align myself even more with Lyza’s character.

Lyza’s fear that her father might not feel she was worth choosing over the grief of their loss was heart-wrenching. Her fear that she wasn’t worth coming back for was just intense and really added to my grief. In reality, it’s just a misunderstanding on Lyza’s part; her mind is young and despite the misunderstanding, her loyalty towards her father is moving and admirable. She knows she is the only safety he has left in the world. She thinks she might be the only chance he has to hold on to any reality he might still grip. The truth is that he is helping her more than she knows, and their relationship is really beginning to grow and deepen.

Lyza rows SO MUCH in this book! It’s obviously a sign of the setting and time, but the poor thing! My arms got tired just reading about it. Her poor arms must always feel like pulled taffy, burn like fire or be so muscular she could arm wrestle a gorilla. She is always going, always trying to save her father. She is relentless and courageous, determined and persistent. She does not recognize those as talents that she’s been given. The best part of this story is a secret about Lyza that she doesn’t even know herself. Her discovery of who she is and what path she should take is really something else, even though I’ve read dozens of “self-discovery” stories. This one is just a little bit different, I think, because of the dire circumstances throughout and the revelations towards the end that really change the perspective of many characters. Lyza discovers that her father isn’t the crazy fool that both sides of the family think he is. She learns he has a gift that helps people more than even he knows it, and learns that she is just as capable of being fearless and helpful.

I think this book has a lot of great messages and teaches a lot of good lessons: there are things that we’re so busy trying to solve and to fix that we overlook the sights in front of our eyes and the words being spoken to us. Our talents don’t always need to be discovered, so much as they need to be awakened, which we can only do after we have calmed our fears.

My favorite passages in the book are:

“In that instant God felt as real as a human being standing in front of me, guiding things along so that no one would go too far off course. Mr. Penwarren had his chance to care for another soul, and Mater watched over the soul he loved most of all. God had seen to everyone’s needs.”

“I favored following the flow of life-eating when hunger took me, dressing as I liked, speaking the truth in whatever order it came to my lips, and never fearing the things that are so often left unseen-lies told to steal what isn’t yours, things left unsaid, and spirits set adrift by the desperate need to finish what they’ve left undone.”

I think The Keening is a great example of how Mothers really do seem to think of everything and are always in preparation for/of something. God is what gives them the inspiration to do so.
This book holds more than just a “coming-of-age, self discovery” tale. It’s an example of a girl who learned to take the fear out of life. Just because we can’t explain something, doesn’t mean we should be afraid. Maybe we simply need to have more faith, to trust ourselves more to be God’s hands in some way, and that he knows where we’re going, even if we don’t.

Profile Image for Andrea at Reading Lark.
950 reviews81 followers
March 31, 2013
Review Posted on Reading Lark on 1/21/11: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2011/...

The Keening by A. LaFaye is a rich mixture of historical fiction and paranormal. LaFaye takes readers into a world of secrets, sickness, and the unexplained. Lyza is a young girl in 1918 when she watches the fever plague the people of her town. After nearly dying from the disease herself she is sensitive to the burden the sickness places on those around her. On top of watching her world die, Lyza must also deal with being the talk of the town. Her father is crazy and her mother is even crazier for loving a man with so many issues. Can Lyza find her place amongst all the gossip and fevers?

Lyza is thrust into a world she never knew existed on the morning that her mother succumbs to the fever. She must protect her father from being sent away to a special place for the mentally ill. She knows her father is not like other fathers, but she refuses to believe that what plagues him is a mental illness. What could be causing her Pater to talk so intently to the statues he carves? And can Lyza save him before it truly is too late and she loses the only parent she has left?

Maine provides the perfect haunting backdrop to LaFaye's tale. The dreary gray setting fits perfectly into the creepy world that she weaves. LaFaye also shows some serious writing chops with the character of Lyza. She does a phenomenal job of bringing this character to life. Lyza's pain and stress seeped through the print and invaded my body. I couldn't rest until I knew the fate of her family. LaFaye also does a beautiful job of bringing her readers into the influenza epidemic. She has obviously done a vast amount of research to make her story come alive.

I have to admit that this book did take me awhile to get into, but I promise it is well worth the wait. There are twists and turns that I never saw coming which kept me eagerly devouring every word. The Keening is sure to be a hit with fans of historical fiction.

One Last Gripe: I was not a big fan of Lyza's dreams in the boat. I often found those to distract me from the flow of the plot. They also were confusing at times.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The truth about what's going on with Pater

First Sentence: As a child who waded in the head-high grass of our cliffside home, I'd harbored a peculiar fondness for funeral marches - the sight of all those people in one long line, each face holding a memory.

Favorite Character: Lyza

Least Favorite Characters: Lyza's Grandmothers

Profile Image for Britta.
322 reviews54 followers
November 27, 2010
Starting this story I was expecting to read about the terrors of living during the huge influenza epidemic. I was expecting to feel sad every other page, to have more and more characters whom I’ve come to love die. This book was not like that at all. Yes, this is a historical fiction novel that takes pace during that time, but it does not play as big of a role as expected. Characters do die in the story, but that is not the basis of the story. The plot follows Lyza as she is discovering new, unbelievable things about her life while trying to care for and protect her father after the death of her mother.

Lyza’s pater (pater =father, mater= mother > this took me a while to understand) is not normal. He spends most of his time carving realistic faces into anything available. Most days he forgets to eat, and he wouldn’t even get dressed if not for the constant reminder from Lyza’s mother. Lyza’s mother’s family is dead set on committing him somewhere, but Lyza and her mother would never let that happen. But when Lyza’s mater is gone, she is left with the bulky task of protecting him. Soon she will find out that maybe Pater isn’t crazy, he just sees more than everyone else. Maybe she does too…

I really enjoyed this story. The tone of the narrator was much more adult, but that was expected considering the time period it takes place in. There was something very special about this novel, I’m not exactly sure what. I was also very impressed with the writing itself. There was a sort of paranormal aspect to this story, yet I wouldn’t group this book with other novels with the same type of aspect. It was so much different than others. The paranormal plot didn’t seem paranormal. That probably doesn’t make sense… in other words, it didn’t seem like it was made up. It seemed like that it very well could be something some people live with. I know that is vague, but I don’t want to give the plot away.

When I was younger, all I used to read were historical fiction novels. My two favorite books growing up were The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Fever 1793, so that could be a big reason why I enjoyed this so much. If you enjoy historical fiction novels, I highly recommend this one.

(See the review in all its glory here:http://ilikethesebooks.blogspot.com/2... )
355 reviews10 followers
January 24, 2011
This review first appeared on my blog: http://jewelknits.blogspot.com/2011/0...

At 14, Lyza lives in a world populated by the spirits her father claims to see - the ones that he carves faces of and sets adrift in boats to the sea. Her mother, an accomplished seamstress, holds the family together - homeschooling Lyza, making the extra money necessary for essentials with her work. Mater's family, the Bradleys, are estranged. They think that Lyza's Pater is crazy and belongs in "the farm" - the insane asylum. As Lyza mentally prepares herself for a trip to Portland, Maine, to take the high school exam, her best friend Jake insists that he has to go with her - he needs to see Portland, a real city.

With the influenza epidemic raging, Lyza and her family are witness to many funeral marches past their house to the graveyard, and father's carving becomes almost obsessive, with Mater needing to coax him back to the house to eat. Suddenly, Mater falls ill, and within a day or so, Pater and Lyza are rowing to an island set a short distance out to bury Mater themselves beside her father. As Pater waits for Mater to come back, Lyza's mission quickly becomes apparent - she must keep the Bradleys from sending her father to "the farm". In her attempts to do so, she uncovers family secrets and an ally she didn't know she had. She also discovers her own strengths and talents.

The writing is ethereal, almost dream-like. At the end, I read the author's note that this story came in a dream, and that the dream-like qualities are purposeful. This is a rather quick, but pleasant read. I liked Pater and Lyza, and was rooting for him all the way. There are some skillfully engineered surprises as well.


That's how Mater came back to Kingsley Cove after college, with a common-law husband, a baby in her belly, and a cut on her forehead - a lifelong reminder of just how dangerous her family could be.

Grief made most folks fade into strangeness. Had it brought Pater to the other side of normal?

"See," he'd said, pointing to a man twisting his arms around like he must be pedaling something, his eyes blank yet staring, his mouth stammering through some list, "Without your Mater, that's how your father would be."
Profile Image for Marie.
95 reviews
September 20, 2011
This was an interesting but kind of sad ghost story. It is also one of my favorite kinds of ghost stories - the ones where the ghosts all gravitate towards one person (usually one person who can see them and communicate with them) whom they need to pass on a message to those they left behind. I've always been interested in the afterlife, if one exists.

Liza Layton loses her mother to influenza, and it's up to her to ensure that her father is taken care of. He's a very talented but eccentric carver and spends most of his time carving - so much that his in-laws want to have him committed to a work farm called Elysian Fields. Lyza must overcome her fears to get him the help he needs.

When it comes to ghosts and the afterlife, there isn't anything here terribly groundbreaking. It's pretty standard - person starts seeing ghosts, ghosts need person to pass on messages to the living so they can move on, person lives in fear of going crazy and being institutionalized.

That being said, I really liked it. The author says that the story came to her in a dream, so the story was written with a dreamlike quality and I have to agree - the story does have a dreamlike quality to it. I kept picturing Lyza's house with an overcast sky and fog surrounding it. That's dreamlike to me, anyway.

I think this book was originally released in 2009, but was re-released in April 2011. I was able to read this thanks to NetGalley.

Book review also published at my blog.
Profile Image for Cindy Hudson.
Author 15 books23 followers
May 13, 2010
When Lyza’s Mater dies of the flu in the pandemic of 1918, Lyza must figure out a way to keep her relatives from sending her Pater away to a place for people deemed crazy. He’s always been different, but Lyza knows he’s not crazy. To prove it, she’ll have to travel far and enlist the help of people she’s never met. In the process she’ll discover her own strength and her talents and find out how to forge ahead in her own life.

The Keening by A. LaFaye is a haunting story in more ways than one. First there’s the spirit that Lyza feels in her home the day a funeral passes by outside. Then there are all the sicknesses and deaths that visit the people in her Maine village. And there are also the carvings her Pater creates, the anguished souls he sees and must set free.

Finally, there’s the feeling of loss and longing throughout the story—Lyza’s longing for her mother, and her desire to have a worthwhile talent. Her friend Jake’s need to escape their small village for the big city of Portland. Her Pater’s wish to help the troubled souls that appear to him.

Author LaFaye creates a setting that’s appropriately dark, with scenes of foggy islands, woods with watching faces and lonely cabins. It matches the somber mood of the times, when even in a small village many people could be quickly lost to the flu. The haunting images LaFaye creates are apt to linger with you for a long time. I recommend The Keening for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 12 and up.

Profile Image for Stephanie.
396 reviews
January 29, 2011
The Keening was a great read! I read it all in one sitting, unable to stop myself from turning the pages, wanting to know what would become of Lyza and her father.

My Summary: Lyza has always lived on a secluded cliff with her parents, whom she affectionately refers to as Mater (Mama) and Pater (Papa). Her mother is the glue that holds their family together, taking care of both Lyza and her eccentric father, who sometimes goes days without food as he carves life-like statues out of wood. Lyza has always been sheltered and loved, but she knows what people think of her family: they think her father is insane, and they all pity her mother for being married to a supposed 'psychopath'.

When the flu pandemic of 1918 hits the town nearby, everyone becomes a target - including Lyza's mother. Within 10 hours of discovering she had a fever, Lyza and her father are burying the woman that loved them both more than anything.

Now, left alone with her father, Lyza must find a way to keep her uncles from shipping him off to a work-farm, selling their house, and leaving her an orphan. But Lyza is not well herself - everytime she falls asleep, she sees visions of a boat floating on the surface of murky, black water, and she knows that it is somehow connected to her mother's death. Add to that the fact that her father is keeping a secret from her - an enormous secret that challenges everything she knew about her life.
Profile Image for W..
Author 6 books44 followers
August 5, 2011
15 year old Lyza loves her small reclusive family. Her mother is estranged from her family and her father is thought to be insane. Lyza does what any girl does, she studies, she has a part time job and she wonders about her future.

The story takes place in a small coastal village during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Funeral parades past Lyza's family home are a daily occurrence. When her mother falls fatally ill with the disease, Lyza begins a quest to save her father from the people who wish to place him in a work house for the mentally insane. Along the way, she discovers she is more like her parents than she ever realized.

I love a good historical novel. Learning about real events while immersed in a fictional novel adds another layer of depth to story which makes history tantalizing accessible to me as a reader. As a fictional novel, this one falls far short.

The premise of this novel is unique and unusual. I had high hopes for an action packed and suspense-filled adventure. Here, too, I was disappointed. Lyza spends a majority of the book immersed in her own thoughts. Very little actually happens, action-wise.

The author was aiming for a dream-like quality in her prose, which she was successful in achieving. However, I feel the novel suffered for it. I would have liked to see a better balance between the inner and outer Lyza as she discovers her place in the world with the advent of her beloved mother's untimely death.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 6 books479 followers
November 15, 2012
Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com

Lyza's father, an eccentric, artistic man, is slowly losing his sanity.

Lyza always relied on the stability of her mother to help keep him from completely going over the edge. Now, Lyza is left to pick up the pieces after her mother succumbs to the influenza epidemic. Pater struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy, but he is convinced that his wife's spirit will eventually pay him a visit.

Lyza's father is hiding an incredible secret, one that may take him away from Lyza forever. It is a secret that Lyza shares with her father - a family trait that she has inherited and can no longer ignore.

THE KEENING was a fast read. I enjoyed how LaFaye set the story in Maine around the time of the flu epidemic, as it gave the story some historical context. I also enjoyed her descriptions of the sea. The water seemed to be very important to both Lyza and her father. I was also surprised when Pater's secret was revealed - I had not seen that coming.

The story is not complex and the characters are simple, but that is what makes this novel a delightful read. It is the story of a girl and the bond she shares with her father. Read it - you won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Emma Michaels.
Author 20 books686 followers
September 23, 2010
There is something about this novel that is so special and unique. You feel like you are actually going Lyza’s journey with her. You can almost feel the surroundings portrayed in Maine and out at sea. It is beautiful and haunting but there is something that keeps the novel in your hands and keeps you reading through this strange journey with Lyza. It is absolutely beautiful and unforgettable with amazing historical details and information. A. LaFaye definitely did all the homework needed for this novel. I will admit when I first saw the cover I didn’t take a second glance. Then I was reading through novel descriptions and something about this one caught my eyes.
Now, the cover have grown on my after reading the novel. It makes sense and suits the book. This novel has some main points that I really enjoyed. As a daddy’s girl, I loved getting to see the relationship between Lyza and her father, even if it isn’t quite normal and her father does seem to be slowly losing his sanity, (seems being the key word). Then there are some other parts I can’t really write about without giving anything away but it is wonderful! Well worth the read and a quick read at that.

Emma Michaels
Profile Image for Wendy Hines.
1,322 reviews259 followers
January 16, 2012
Lyza Layton lives in a small town in Maine and the flu epidemic has taken ahold of their town hard. She watches everyday as the funeral march passes by her cliffs after spending her days carving letters into wooden signs.

Her mom makes their money by sewing, and her dad carves faces into stone. Beautiful carvings that are very lifelike. The townsfolk call her dad crazy because he forgets to eat, clothe or clean himself unless her mom reminds him.

When the flu takes her mother's life suddenly, Lyza doesn't know what to do. The town wants to admit her father into the asylum farm but she will do anything to make sure that doesn't happen.

When she finds a notebook in her mom's keepsake box addressed to her, she finds the name of a man she must find, a man who will ensure that her dad will remain out of the asylum.

But on Lyza's journey to the big city to find him, she finds out something about herself. She does have a talent besides letter carving, and she understands her dad now in a way she never did before.

The Keening is a short and simple story, but yet it is memorable. The characters of Lyza and her dad are remarkable and complex. Set against the backdrop of the Maine coast, The Keening is haunting, memorable and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Somer.
65 reviews23 followers
January 31, 2011
Wow, this was such a simple story, but it had a lot of depth. This book was not what I expected after reading the summary. The fact that Lyza and her pater (father) could see spirits threw me for a loop, but it all tied together nicely.
I always enjoy stories told from a child's perspective. This story makes you realize the responsibility some children have to take on, especially in that time period.
The author used beautiful language in this book. The words were often like poetry. For example "The moon pitied my foolishness and lit the way." Or "In letters as tiny as if they'd been written on the eyelashes of a baby kitten..."
While this book wasn't an edge of your seat type of book, you grow to care about Lyza and her family, and you want to see that everything gets resolved. I would recommend this book to young adult historical fiction fans.
62 reviews
April 3, 2011
I am a huge young adult historical fiction fan although it's not the "popular" genre these days! I looked forward the reading The Keening and was a little surprised that it felt more like a ghost story than historical fiction. I do blame myself for expecting something along the lines of Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. With that said, The Keening is a beautifully written book about a very unique family told from the point of view of the daughter Lyra. The family has a very interesting gift or talents and this is the central focus of the book. It's a quick read, but I didn't feel satisfied after I had finished reading it and I had a hard time getting a sense of the time period. I would market emphasizing the ghost aspect of the story rather than the history.

Review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Sara.
557 reviews15 followers
May 3, 2011
Received from NetGalley.

Summary: Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife

I enjoyed the book. I felt as if I was right there with Lyza during her journey. You can feel the surroundings portrayed in Maine and out at sea. It's really hard to put down once you get into the story. I wasn't disappointed. The fact that Lyza and her pater (father) could see spirits threw me for a loop, but it all tied together nicely.

I would recommend this book to anyone.
Profile Image for Linda.
225 reviews44 followers
May 26, 2011
This book reads almost like a descriptive journal from a young girl. It details the daily goings on with such realism that you are instantly pulled into the story. I believe this is marketed as a young adult novel and I’m afraid that is where some of this book’s lack of interest lies. While the main character is a young girl, the writing style and content seem like they would be of much more interest to an adult audience. It has a Hawthorne like quality to the prose which many younger readers will find frustrating and disappointing.

Personally, I enjoyed the book and found it gave a fresh impression of a family’s struggles during the time period. Focusing on the girl and her own personal survival (both physically and emotionally) was a nice change from other books that take place during this time.
(ARC Galley)
Profile Image for ABookGeek.
35 reviews32 followers
July 15, 2010
This novel is historical fiction in that it takes place in Maine during the 1918 influenza epidemic, but this is a dreamy, ethereal, ghostly story about Lyza, her artistic, eccentric father and the death of Lyza' mother. Mayra, Lyza’s mother, has always taken care of her artistic, sensitive, and some might even say insane, husband and made sure that their lives ran relatively smoothly.

Read more on my blog: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/201...

Profile Image for Molly.
Author 6 books85 followers
June 10, 2010
I loved the atmosphere of this teen novel recently published by Milkweed. It helps that I adore the idea of the Maine coast, the idea of the nautical and the natural, and anything eerie or haunting is delicious to me.

This book felt like it was only Part I of a longer novel though. The plot comes to a conclusion, yes, but it feels only as if it started to lift off.
Profile Image for Amy Heffington.
10 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2013
This story had a small twist to it near the end. A story of love and family struggles. Not one of my favorites which made it a little tough for me to want to continue to pick it up and read. It was slow at the beginning and began to pick up near the end.
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11 reviews
September 28, 2010
It was a sad book. I really didn't like it that much. It has a lot of sad parts.
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