Barbara's Reviews > Kepler's Dream

Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell
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May 11, 2012

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bookshelves: animals, death, families, literacy, mysteries, ncbla2013, reading, word-lovers, writing
Read in May, 2012

While her mother fights for her life and undergoes invasive treatment for her cancer, Ella has nowhere else to go but to her paternal grandmother's home in Albuquerque. Since her parents' divorce, eleven-year-old Ella has had little contact with her father since he often heads off on fishing expeditions from his Spokane, Washington base of operations. Since Ella doesn't remember ever meeting this grandmother, she is understandably reluctant to stay with her, and her insistence on proper grammar and etiquette doesn't help Ella feel any more comfortable. Ella even comes to think of the woman as the General Major and calls the residence the Good Grammar Correctional Facility in the letters she writes to her mother. As emotionless and detached as she might seem, Ella's grandmother does have something going for her. She's a lover of good writing and a collector of rare books, a hobby she and her husband shared before his death many decades earlier. The house is filled with books, but the prize is a volume known as Kepler's Dream, which disappears during Ella's stay. She and Rosie, the daughter of one of Grandmother's assistants eventually solve the mystery of the book's whereabouts. The book contains some powerful sentences and describes an eccentric family with members that, in the end, love each other despite their imperfections. There are quite a few characters who enter the book only briefly and in some respects detracted from my enjoyment of the title. Then, too, there are too many individuals coming and going, some secretly, that sometimes things felt a little muddy. Not surprisingly, many of the characters grow and change, but I wondered what exactly prompted the changes in Ella herself. As a bibliophile, I longed to spend some time in the library described in the book, but I also was surprised that only recently were any attempts made to organize it and record its contents. Most of us readers thrive on having our books carefully shelved so that we can find whatever book strikes our fancy.

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