I think it has to be hard for authors writing books for kids in the 4-6th grade, especially if they want to make them realistic. Let's face it, it's hard to be real without being scary. All you have to do is turn on the news in the evening, or better yet watch one of the at least 25 crime dramas on tv to see how frightening the world can be.
I think Peg Kehret has done a good job in this book of being real without going overboard. I haven't read any of her other books, but she seems to be a specialist in this. Scary stuff that won't keep kids from being able to sleep at night.
Sunny Skyland is an orphan who's been bumped around from foster family to foster family ever since she was 3 & her mom & grandma died in a car wreck. It's 10 years later & when she finds a bag of money in the woods near her current foster home in Nebraska she decides to do what she's dreamed of all her life--find her twin sister, Starr. With just her brains, the money, & a stray dog she finds on the way, Sunny makes her way to Washington state, to the town she lived in before her life changed forever. Will she find Starr? And what happens if she does?
This book is well written & it also has a realistic ending. Some of the adventures she encounters are a little far fetched, but the way Peg Kehret describes them makes you more than willing to believe. Coming face-to-face with a tornado in the middle of nowhere with no shelter doesn't sound like a good recipe for survival, but the descriptions are wonderful & the matter-of-fact way the author uses them makes you really think this is what a 13 year old girl like Sunny would say.
The media is full of so many stories of separated twins who found each other when they were older & happened to have lived similar lives. But when two paths diverge you never know where they'll end up. I don't want to give anything away, but I found the need for acceptance of life the way that it is at the end of the book refreshing. It has a happy ending, the kind that will stick with you.