BROKEN SOUP (HarperTeen, 2009) by Jenny Valentine is all about connections. Rowan has been in charge of her younger sister Stoma since the death of their brother, Jack. Dad has left the family; Mom is unable to cope and spends most of her day locked away from the rest of the family. And then one day, a young man hands her a negative to a photo telling her she had dropped it outside. Rowan had not dropped the negative, but when her new friend, Bee, prints it, Rowan discovers Jack's smiling face looking back at her. How has this happened? Who is the young man who handed her the negative?
These are just two of the questions tackled by Jenny Valentine whose ME THE MISSING AND DEAD was a finalist for the Walden Award last year. From the title to the mystery of the negative to the dysfunctional family, Valentine creates a story that makes readers care about what happens to the characters. They are, of course, an eclectic group. But the connections they share make them fully human, people I would want to have over for dinner and conversation.