A Secret Shared

Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2021. 160p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062885852.
Gr 4-6–MacLachlan examines the question “What makes a family?” in her latest middle grade book. White-cued twins Ben and Nora Rossi uncover a family secret when a DNA test kit reveals that their younger sister, Birdy, is not Irish like their mom or Italian like their dad, but Swedish. Ben and Nora quickly conclude that Birdy was secretly adopted, but they don’t understand why their parents would conceal such important information. MacLachlan’s lyrical writing emphasizes that love is what makes a family. This short novel is immersed in love—between friends, within a married couple, between siblings, parents and their children, and even in the devotion for a favorite teacher. However, while the relationships and writing are beautiful, the novel shows an idealistic, best-case scenario of acceptance from all family members when the secret is revealed.
VERDICT With a warm message and gorgeous prose, this story grounded in fact and love nevertheless comes off feeling a bit too much like fantasy.

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