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The Keening

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  29 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Milkweed Editions
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Cami The back of my copy says "Intermediate Fiction." I read it when I was eleven, and I liked it a lot, but many of the concepts went over my head. I'd sa…moreThe back of my copy says "Intermediate Fiction." I read it when I was eleven, and I liked it a lot, but many of the concepts went over my head. I'd say it's best for middle school students. It feels spooky to read, and the themes are often dark, but I don't think there's a specific age cut-off that decides when people are ready to hear about it.(less)

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Average rating 3.49  · 
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Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. Know
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, net-galley
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 ...more
May 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
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! ...more
Loni DeRock
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 villa ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.75 stars
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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
Andrea at Reading Lark
Review Posted on Reading Lark on 1/21/11:

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 wit
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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, un ...more
Julie Smith
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This review first appeared on my blog:

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 insa
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
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 carve
Cindy Hudson
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. Fir
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal-read, arcs
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
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Wendy Hines
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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, Ly
Emma Michaels
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 thi ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by LadyJay for

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
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 boo
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, netgalley
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 ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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 "T
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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 wi ...more
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
From the very beginning it's obvious that the family dynamic is far from typical. The influenza epidemic works only as a backdrop for what is really happening around Lyza's home. The ghostly inhabitants and actions provide the story with enough spook to keep the pages turning, but the level of fear is pretty low.

The Keening, like other Milkweed Editions books, portrays families that are a bit unusual, but ultimately, aren't all families a little bit off?
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
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:

Jun 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Amy Heffington
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This was really slow for me but couldn't put it down the last quarter of the book. ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
It was a sad book. I really didn't like it that much. It has a lot of sad parts. ...more
A Book Vacation
May 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book just isn't for me.

To read my full review--coming 6/5:
rated it liked it
Jul 08, 2013
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