It always started with the same question:
What happens after you die?
They took turns answering:
Maybe you turn into the wind.
Maybe you turn into stars.
Maybe you go to another world (38).
One ordinary day, as Jules and Sylvie help their mother unpack the groceries from the car, their mother suddenly drops dead. Jules runs for help. She hasn’t stopped trying to run faster and faster since that day.
Years go by in which Jules and Sylvie, whose interest lies in rocks and minerals, often play the Maybe Game, in which they speculate about what happens to someone after death.
While waiting for the bus one snowy morning, Jules takes off running toward the Slip, a deep and dangerous section of the river running through the nearby woods. It the one place forbidden to children by parents in the neighborhood. It is also the place where children often throw wishing stones.
The bus arrives but Jules does not. Her body is never found but it is Sylvie who discovers Jules tripped on a tree root hidden by the new fallen snow, sliding to her death.
And so begins Appelt and McGhee’s mesmerizing, rythmic, heartbreaking story of a grieving sister and a very special fox. Secondary but enriching characters include the girls’ neighbor Sam and his brother, recently returned from armed conflict and suffering in his own way. Their stories intertwine and in the end, a measure of peace is achieved by all.
“Intriguing as a story of connection to the animal world and, for perceptive readers, filled with solace,” according to Kirkus. I wept and wept. And yet, I was comforted and grateful for having experienced the book. Highly recommended.