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The Postcard

by Tony Abbott

Published by Little, Brown, 2008
358 pages
ISBN: 9780316011723

Ages 11-13

Thirteen-year-old Jason has come to Saint Petersburg, Florida, to help his father clean out his grandmother’s belongings after her death. Jason had never met his grandmother, and his father has never talked much about her, or his own childhood. Surprised to see his father cry at his grandmother’s funeral, Jason’s even more surprised by the strange cast of characters who show up, and the fact that the funeral director keeps referring to his grandmother as “Marnie” rather than her real name, Agnes. Finding a thriller magazine from the 1940s among his grandmother’s possessions, Jason discovers a serialized story (amusingly written in the style of Raymond Chandler) about a character named Marnie, who is mixed up with questionable characters bearing a distinct resemblance to the odd mourners. But the story has no conclusion—a note at the end indicates that the author died without writing more. Jason is soon following a series of clues that not only lead to the discovery of additional chapters but also draw the strange assortment of people at the funeral into his life. The real-life events and people are intertwined with the improbable events and characters of the magazine story. They all not only reveal secrets about his father’s family but also help Jason to acknowledge his parents’ struggling marriage. With old postcards of city landmarks a prominent feature, the Saint Petersburg setting becomes another character in this story that blends over-the-top elements with a teen’s very real struggle to come to terms with the uncertainty in his family. An additional element—and delight—for Wisconsin readers plays out in the resolution of one aspect of the mystery in this entertaining novel.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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