Mary By Myself

by Jane Denitz Smith. (HarperCollins, 1995 ISBN 0060245174. Paperback.) Novel. Grades 3+.
This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine April 1995.
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Jane Denitz Smith's first novel is Mary By Myself. There are times when her voice of a pre-adolescent girl, Mary, doesn't ring quite true, but the story is intriguing and insightful. The plot revolves around one family's reaction to sudden infant death. When Mary's parents react to the death of the baby by withdrawing from her as well as everybody else, Mary begins a fascination with lighted matches that eventually gets her packed off to summer camp. There she pretends that her baby sister is still alive and falls under the spell of another camper whose behavior is more bizarre than hers. Mary learns a lot at camp about friendship, grief and herself but the lessons don't come easily.

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