Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015
When Willow's mother is killed in a car accident, the eighth-grader withdraws into herself, pulling away from her father and her friends at school and relying on her pets for comfort. Soon, she discovers that she can communicate not only with her own animals, but with those in the wild as well.
As the years pass, her father begins to move on by forming a relationship with the mother of one of Willow's classmates. While the outdoorsy and introverted Willow likes her father's girlfriend, Laurel, she finds it hard to relate to her daughter, Priscilla, who is a ballet dancer obsessed with her weight.
As Willow spends more time with the animals in the woods, she begins to have dreams in which a which a white raven is trying to warn her about an upcoming crisis. When a forest fire erupts during a family camping trip, Willow realizes that with her telepathic skills and dream-knowledge, she may be in a position to help both people and animals escape from what could be a disastrous inferno.
Author Myslik-McFadden presents a strong and engaging plot with likeable characters in this self-published book. While an editor may have helped to streamline some of the myriad themes that are addressed (astral projection, telepathy, lucid dreaming, global warming, arson, anorexia) and a proofreader would have caught repeated spelling errors in one of the character's names, these issues won't deter most teen readers.
Connie Myslik-McFadden is a writer and a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Bozeman, Montana, where she lives with her husband and two Bearded Collies. She lived in Princeton, New Jersey, for many years before moving to Big Sky country in 1994. You can find her on the web at www.gatheringthesoul.com.