Connect with the Author
About the Book
Stella’s grandmother doesn’t like to talk about her parents, even when she asks. But now that she’s in sixth grade, Stella needs answers. A rusty box provides a clue to the place her parents met—Camp Hawthorne—and Stella is determined to go. The camp’s secret draws her into extraordinary possibilities she never knew existed. And despite warnings to leave the past alone, she uncovers a mystery linked to her parents and must decide how much she will risk to find the truth.
Get it Today!
Keep reading for an excerpt:
Grandma didn’t like to talk about my parents, even when I asked. The sparkle would fade from her eyes, and her arms would wrap around me and hold me tight.
She seemed to gather strength from the bags of clothing, newspapers and odd gadgets she brought home every day, sorting them into piles at night until the rooms were crammed full with only a path down the middle.
For me, the rooms were like caves filled with treasure, and I used to invite Lindsey over to help me explore. I liked to think about the things we found—a black typewriter, a bomber hat, a spindly lace umbrella—they all belonged to someone once. There must be stories.
But the stories just stayed in my head until the day we found the box.
We were sorting through a pile of clothes, and Lindsey had tied a fringed shawl around her head so that only wisps of her blond hair showed.
“Look Stella. I’m a gypsy queen,” she said, rattling some bangles on her arms.
“And I’m a pirate.” I buckled on a leather belt and poked through another mound of stuff in hopes of finding boots.
Near the bottom, a moldy boot was caught under a rickety sewing machine. I tugged at it, but it wouldn’t budge. I finally pulled so hard that the machine creaked, and a rusty box flew free with the boot.
“Treasure,” Lindsey said.
I rubbed the grime from the lid, and a sudden lump rose in my throat. Faint letters were scratched on the box—Franny. My mother’s name.
My fingers prickled as I opened the lid.
Inside lay some faded photos and a red bandana, tied in a knot. I loosened it, and a key chain fell out. For a moment it sparkled in the dim room, but I looked again and it was just blue and white plastic, braided into a rope with an empty key ring at the end.
“Did you see that?” Lindsey asked, touching the key ring lightly.
“Let’s show Grandma,” I said.
We dashed down the hall to her library and squeezed through the stacks of newspapers that filled the room like yellowed skyscrapers.
She sat in her recliner in the midst of them, and I had a quick image of those towers slowly tilting until they whooshed across the floor and through the front door. That was my biggest nightmare—that the whole neighborhood would find out about Grandma’s collections.
“Look what we found,” I said.
Her face crinkled in a smile at the sight of us, but when she saw the box she put a hand on her heart. “I thought that was lost. It’s your mother’s keepsakes from camp.” She pulled out one of the pictures. “And here she is with your father.” Her gray eyes swept the room with the sad look she got when she talked about the past.