Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Reminder by Rune Michaels

How many of you like a mystery that is both suspenseful and a little bit creepy? If so, let me introduce you to the book, The Reminder, by Rune Michaels.

Daze (she preferred this over Daisy) sometimes cursed her ears; in her opinion they were badly designed. Ears should come with a lid or door just like our eyes and mouth do. To her, it wasn’t fair we couldn’t automatically snap our ears shut if we didn’t want to hear something.

Daze probably wished for a way to close down her nightmares too. Is it possible that nightmares subconsciously signal that something is very wrong in our conscious lives? It may have been a dream, but Daze thought she had actually heard a voice. The voice was familiar, but time made it seem so distant. You probably wouldn’t blame her if she had screamed. At night, many of us have trouble distinguishing between what is real from what we are dreaming.

You probably wouldn't blame her if you knew that she had screamed because this was the first time since the funeral that Daze thought she heard her dead mother’s voice.

She still had her dad. He's a robotic engineer. But, he is strangely absent, preoccupied, these days. He works himself almost non-stop behind a closed door in his university office. Yet, when she catches him at home all he wants to do is relive how things used to be. You probably wouldn't blame him either if you knew that he often played home movies to himself in secret so he could see and hear his late departed wife.

Was the explanation that simple, or was this what Daze really wanted to believe? The home movies, that explained everything-why she had nightmares, why she heard her dead mother's voice. In her mind, this was a logical and obvious explanation-at least the first time Daze heard the voice.

Daze heard her dead mother’s voice a second time, but not at night, and not at home. This time the voice came from behind a door labeled “Keep Out!” Daze just froze there, baffled, shocked, and probably a little scared, in front of the door that led into her dad's lab office door. Whenever she asked about the sign that said, Keep Out, he always replied, “It’s for your own protection.”

How could she explain her dead mother’s voice a second time? What kind of twisted secret hid behind that door? Why did her dad keep her out? Her mind raced. She remembered something strange from the funeral. Maybe there was a reason why he didn’t let her say goodbye to her mom at the funeral. He always had logical explanations: “It was a closed casket,” he reminded her, but what if there was another reason Daze wasn't allowed to say her goodbyes?

Before you think it's just Daze’s father hiding something, be careful. You might also want to examine Daze's behavior lately.

Explain this: Daze often gave overly specific details to her classmates at school about how her mother died. Daze could even move them to tears. Her tale even included a description of how beautiful her mom looked in the casket. Hold on, do you remember? Daze didn’t get to say her final goodbye at the funeral. The casket was closed.

Memories can be powerful things. They can also tangle-up children and adults in puzzling ways, especially memories that are difficult to relive.

What is Daze's father working on behind the door that says "Keep Out!"? What is Daze hiding? And, was the voice Daze heard really her mother's? Find out in this story of a family trying to repair itself after a difficult loss in, The Reminder, by Rune Michaels.

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