Joan Colby's Reviews > Shadow Baby

Shadow Baby by Alison McGhee
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's review
Dec 14, 2011

really liked it

Once you are able to suspend disbelief—that an 11-year old could be quite as precocious as Clara—this is an engaging story. Clara’s main goal is to discover who her father and grandfather are and why her twin sister died at birth. Her mother Tamar won’t answer these questions. As a consequence, Clara, a born storyteller, invents tales to satisfy her imagination; that her grandfather is a hermit in the Appalachian woods for instance. Much of Clara’s tales stem from her reading of such stories as The Little House in the Prairie series. Clara also befriends an old man, Georg, who lives in a trailer. Initially, she plans to interview him for a school project: Georg Kominsky: American Immigrant is how she thinks of him. When Georg declines to answer her probing queries, she invents a back history for him too, and often can’t recall what is true and what she has invented. Tragically, Georg died in a fire trying to save Clara (who thinks Georg is in the trailer) and ultimately Clara’s questions are answered, though not as she had envisioned. The voice that McGhee invests Clara with is genuinely enchanting.

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