________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 39. . . .June 6, 2014


Finding Grace. (A Gutsy Girl Book).

Becky Citra.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2014.
195 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-927583-25-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-927583-26-5 (epub).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Chris Laurie.

**** /4



I harden my heart. I’m fed up with Mom’s crying. “You could start with the truth.” I pick up the photograph. “Her name is on the back. Grace. So is my birthday. Who is she?”

At first I don’t think Mom is going to answer me. She takes a tissue out of the box on the counter and wipes her eyes. She sits down beside me at the table. She reaches out her hand as if she is going to touch the photograph, but then she pulls back.

Outside the kitchen window, a lawn mower rumbles. Some kids shout. It’s a normal day. But it’s not normal in here. My heart is thumping in my ears.

“Grace is your sister,” Mom says finally.

Her voice is so soft and I think I must have heard her wrong.



For as long as she can remember, Hope has confided her innermost feelings in the letters she writes to her imaginary friend Grace. Hope lives with her mother and grandmother in Vancouver where her mother used to be a fashion model. Hope doesn’t know what’s wrong with her mother, but she is aware that there is a deep, dark family secret that no one talks about. Her mother is always sad, and after breaking up with another boyfriend, tells Hope she doesn’t feel she deserves to be happy. Lately, her mother has been unable to keep a job, and some days can’t even get out of bed.

     Because of this unstable home life, Hope finds it difficult to open up to people and doesn’t have many friends. She finds comfort by confiding her thoughts and feelings in her letters. Days after her grandmother suffers a stroke and dies, an envelope arrives in the mail and, inside, Hope discovers a photograph of a young girl. On the back of the photograph is the name Grace. And a date; June 23, 1954. Hope’s birthday.

     Sensing that this photograph could be the key to unlocking her family’s dark secret, Hope confronts her mother. Uncharacteristically, her mother finally shares the heartbreaking story of the circumstances behind Grace’s being given away when the girls were two-years-old. Reeling at the news that Grace really does exist and that Granny had kept in touch, Hope and her mother begin a journey to locate the girl in the photograph.

     Becky Citra has written a thoroughly enjoyable first entry to the “Gutsy Girl” series. Hope is a plucky, clever, protagonist that young girls will find inspiring. Readers will readily identify with her as she attempts to end the cycle of despair in which her family is caught. Finding Grace is set in the 1950s, but it is quite contemporary in tone with realistic characters that will draw young readers in. This light novel is aimed at ‘tween girls and deals with issues of depression, illness, and adoption in a manner appropriate to its intended audience.

     Becky Citra, a former teacher and the author of 19 books for children, lives on a ranch in British Columbia where she loves to ride horses, hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski.

Highly Recommended.

Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.