Moving to Scotland is when it all starts. Before, when Keilann had been living in Chicago, almost everything about her life had been normal. In the city, no one ever notices or cares that she is Ojibwe, and Keilann learns how to scrape by just enough with her grades to not attract anyone’s attention. Everything is going fine until her father takes a teaching job in Scotland. That’s when everything changes.
Rural Scotland is a wild, rugged land full of unsurpassed beauty—and a few secrets of its own. In the woods behind her new house, Keilann finds an ancient stone circle and a strange, silent girl who seems to have walked straight out of her nightmares. Though Keilann tries to deny it, a series of inexplicable coincidences makes her consider the impossible: perhaps her dreams are not mere illusions, but a window into Scotland’s violent past.
I received a copy of Seven Stones from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What a wonderful debut!
The author, Julia Lee, really astounds in this lush and complex story about family, culture, history, and friendship. It really does have a bit of everything for everyone. The story begins with the main character, Keilann, waking from a dream. Though the nature of the dream isn’t explained, Julia Lee does a wonderful job at building suspense. The story follows Keliann and her family from Chicago to Scotland. And like any teenager would be, Keliann is frazzled by her new surroundings. While I, the reader, was excited about Scotland, I really did feel for Keilann, especially when it became clear that this change wouldn’t be easy for her.
While her sister, Fiona, manages to fit in, Keilann attracts the attention of the school bully. I really liked the way some of the heavier issues were handled in Seven Stones. I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to tackle some of the issues a girl like Keilann would face. As someone who would rather blend in, Keilann certainly stands out more than ever at her new school. Being part Ojibwe suddenly becomes more of an issue than it was for her back home in Chicago. Though it was difficult for me to read about someone being bullied simply because of their race, I knew these issues Keilann faced would be a great stepping stone to who she’d be by the end of the novel. Julia Lee certainly doesn’t disappoint there. The character development is wonderful.
The family issues that Keilann and her family must tackle are poignant and realistic. Like any family, there are highs and lows. Keilann’s parents are a big part of their children’s lives, which we don’t usually see a lot of in today’s young adult literature. It was a nice change. Though not without their flaws, Keilann and her family are the kind who’d always be there for each other no matter what. We not only get to see Keilann’s growth but her family’s as well. The inclusion of Ojibwe culture was wonderful. It added just the right amount of mystic. I learned things that I never would have had I not read this book. Julia Lee was extremely thoughtful with this aspect of the story.
What really kept me turning the page was the strange nature of Keilann’s dreams, which got stranger after she moved to Scotland. I was blown away by how Julia Lee managed to weave the present and the past together. I enjoyed the mixing of both Scottish and Ojibwe lore. It was nicely done, so well done that I didn’t see any of it coming. All of these things, along with great writing and a nice dash of romance, make Seven Stones a spectacular read.
It is full of heart. You’d root for Keilann until the very end.