Lily Dale: Connecting
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Review by Gayle Surrette
Walker Books for Young Readers Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802797858
Date: 25 November 2008 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Calla Delaney's life changed the moment she walked in the door to find her mother's lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs. She's now living with her grandmother, Odelia Lauder, in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community where everyone seems to have psychic abilities. Her father, Jeff Delaney, is teaching at a small college in California. But the biggest change has been Calla's discovery of her own psychic gifts and her mother's past. It hasn't been easy and it seems to be getting less so as Calla believes that her mother may have been murdered.
Over the last two books, the reader has seen Calla learn to accept her abilities and agree to learn to control them. She's begun to fit into the community and her new school. She still misses her best friend from Florida and manages to stay in touch with email and phone calls. But she hasn't managed to settle on which of the two boys she's fallen for is the one she wants to be with -- will it be Blue or Jacy. Part of the problem is that her new best friend is in love with Jacy.
While that might be enough to test the mettle of most teens, Calla also is getting visions and feelings that seem to indicate to her that her mother didn't fall down the steps of their Florida home, but was pushed. She's been trying to find a way to learn more and Lisa's gift of a plane ticket and offer to put her up is the chance she's been looking for.
Calla needs allies in her search for her mother's killer. She wants to be believed and she needs evidence. Feelings and mental images aren't going to convince anyone, so she sets out to find out more about her mother's past.
Staub has managed to keep the characters interesting and true to their age groups. Calla is mature and self-reliant but she's still in high school. While her decisions are always logical within her knowledge and ability, like most teens, she's likely to misunderstand or not think through all the ramifications of her actions. Even with that, everything she does is believable and understandable.
I'm finding Calla to be complex and interesting. She's grown over the series so far and it shows in her attitudes. Even more she's opened herself to new experiences and thoughts but without totally accepting on faith. As she changes from the girl she was to the woman she will become, she's finding that she has depths and hidden abilities and beliefs that she's previously not considered.