so, just like Little Bee, this book begs you “NOOO, DON’T TELL ITS SEEEEKRITS!!” and if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
so part of me is tempted to write this whole long review about how this book is a magical adventure focusing on a young girl in manhattan during the blackout of 2003, when all the red pandas living in the sewers came out to play, carrying tiny flashlights and shepherding people from manhattan to their homes in the outer boroughs and all the lessons this young girl learns along the way from her red panda guide about life and humanity and art history and, ultimately, herself.
because i would read that book.
instead, i am just going to say that it is perhaps unwise to market a book in this way. true, the only reason i read it myself was because i came across it when making YA list for work, and i was all “SECRETS?? I LOVE SECRETS!! I WANT TO KNOW THE SECRETS!!” it’s a very effective way of drumming up interest around a book.
but the problem is, when you are prepared for a big twist, it is very easy to guess the big twist, which i did very early on. if you think you are just reading a book about some rich family and a girl with a faulty memory and a mysterious summer, with no tantalizingly bossy instructions about keeping the book’s secrets, you might be more surprised when the reveal is revealed. but when such a big deal is made of SHHHHHHH, and you know you are expecting something unexpected, you will probably find it, and so reading the book just becomes an exercise in waiting for the character to figure it out. which is fine, but less effective in terms of shock value.
i liked it anyway, but i think it would have been more fun to gasp in genuine surprise at the path it took. so forget i said anything, forget what the synopsis tells you to do, and just read it like you would any other book.
this should help you forget everything you have ever known: