Angel’s Grace

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100 best reading and sharingWhile on vacation on the island of Trinidad, twelve-year old Grace Brewster discovers a faded photo of a man who has the same hand-shaped birthmark over his heart that she has.  She remembers the story her mother always told her about an angel who watched over her when she was a baby, sick in the hospital.  And somehow, she knows that this must be her real father.  The only problem is: how will she find him before her vacation is over?

In 2005, New York City Librarians named ANGEL’S GRACE one of the 100 best titles for reading and sharing.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8–Grace, 13, is not happy about spending the summer with her grandmother in Trinidad, away from her friends and parents in New York City. Increasingly, she has been feeling different from the rest of her family, questioning who she is. Her wild red hair is the most visible sign, but something beyond the obvious is telling her that she doesn’t quite belong. When her aunt brings over an old photo album and Grace sees a blurred picture of a young man with a birthmark just like hers standing with her mother, her conviction only increases. She tracks down her parents’ old friends and quizzes them about the photo and eventually finds the answer she has both known and feared: that the man she knows as her father is not her biological parent. She also learns that her biological father, Angel, died in an accident before her birth. Talking to her parents is not easy, but through their strength and love, the three of them work things out. This portrayal rings true. Grace is a real teenager–stubborn, willful, sensitive, and confused. She learns much about herself and her family during her quest and grows in the process. And she realizes that a family can encompass many things as long as love is there. A fine first novel with the added bonus of the island setting.–Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. “Instinctively I always knew that I belonged somewhere else,” says 13-year-old Grace, who, along with her younger sister, has left Brooklyn to spend the summer in Trinidad with their grandmother. At first, Grace misses her home and friends, and her ambivalent feelings are further complicated by a family photo album that offers clues to a secret she has long sensed. With the help of a sweet boy next door, Grace uncovers painful answers to her questions, as well as deep, rich connections to the island. Grace tells her own story with words and sketches (drawn by the author) in a moving debut that is as frank and authentic about sibling rivalry and family anger as it is about the earthy, fruit-scented tropical setting. Many readers will connect with the family secrets that leave “little pinpricks” around the heart, and Grace’s joy when she discovers that “not all secrets . . . turn your whole world upside down. Some of them are sweet little things that are simply too delicious to let slip.” – Gillian Engberg
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From Kirkus
Thirteen-year-old Grace has always known that somehow she doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family. First, there’s her wild red hair; then, there’s the odd angel-shaped birthmark above her heart. Grace and her younger sister spend a few weeks’ summer vacation with their grandmother in Trinidad, and she spies, in a family photo album, a blurred snapshot of an unknown man with an identical birthmark. This becomes the catalyst for a quest that will take Grace on a journey to find not only the stranger, but also her own identity and the true meaning of family. Baptiste’s debut is well-written, with a determined, relatable heroine, solid characterizations, and an exotic setting that is well-evoked. A few childlike drawings interspersed throughout the text suggest illustrations created by Grace herself as she explores island life, finds a first boyfriend and shares her experiences with her best friend back home in Brooklyn. A nice read. (Fiction. 11+) (Kirkus Reviews)