Harper: The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

My Fate According to the Butterfly

Sabrina's 11th birthday is only a week away, and she's been visited by a butterfly "black as a starless night." Her artist father always told her "If the Butterfly lands on something of yours, you should expect Death to come knocking at your door"--and Sab is convinced she can already hear the pounding.

With her mother in Singapore, her father and his boyfriend a long drive away at their resort, and her Ate (older sister) Nadine busy with her journalism internship, Sab wants to accomplish one goal before she dies: get her whole family together to celebrate her birthday. Her parents aren't the problem--Dad and Wendell ("Dad Number Two") get along with Mom and her boyfriend, Ed (Tito Ed, or "Dad Number Three")--it's Nadine. About a year ago, Nadine stopped speaking to their dad. Sab and best friend Pepper decide that if they can figure out why Nadine is mad, they can fix the problem and hold Sab's big family birthday party. What doesn't occur to the two girls is that Nadine might have solid reasons for being unhappy.

Gail Villanueva's debut is sweet and surprisingly gentle considering the serious subject material it covers: strained familial relationships, potential death omens and human-rights violations caused by the Philippine government's brutal war on drugs. While Sab may not always sound her age, her emotional and intellectual journey develops in a natural way; readers will likely figure out why Nadine is upset just as Sab herself learns the truth. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness