Giff, Patricia Reilly. 2008. Eleven. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
Sam, is haunted by the number 11. His birthday in on the 11th, he will be turning 11, he dreams of number 11. When he finds an old newspaper clipping about himself in the attic, the mystery of 11 grows. Unable to read well, the only words he can decipher are his own name and “Missing.” Is he missing? Where is he missing from? Where does he belong? Is 11 the key to the mystery? With the help of Caroline, the new girl in school, Sam is about to find out.
In this new mystery by Newbery Honor-winning Patricia Reilly Giff, Sam learns about friendship, identity, family and perseverance. His new friend and loving “family,” including Mack, who may or may not be related, Onji, the deli owner, and Anima, the Indian restaurant owner and Night Cat, help him unravel the mystery with kindness and compassion.
The tale unfolds as a narrative, interspersed with short dream sequences written in free verse. The sense of mystery is immediate and while this will not likely be a Newbery candidate, I found the mystery compelling enough to finish the book in short order. Interestingly, my 12-year-old daughter did not finish the book, although she is a fan of Patricia Reilly Giff.