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Thea, a 16-year-old suffering from traumatic amnesia, struggles to discover who she is - and who she is not. She hears voices no one can hear, and sees people in the garden no one can see.
Since deserted Rain Island is forbidden because of its treacherous, rocky coast and reputation of sorrow and mystery, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth thinks it's the perfect place to go to avoid her sneering older brother, sniveling younger sister and bickering parents. As she continues to investigate the island, her family situation gets worse and her feelings for a local boy blossom. Among the rocks and moss, she unearths a ruin of a cabin, inhabited by the ghosts of a sickly young girl and a lonely woman. Though she is both sickened and terrified by the restless spirits from long ago, Elizabeth is also curious and determined to do more than watch helplessly as the ghostly tragedy and that of her family, unfolds.
Cass feels the long winter shadows on her heart. Her mother died of cancer and her father has remarried a woman who has moved into their old Manitoba house with her nasty, babyish daughter and an attitude that's very hard to take. Christmas promises to be a miserable time.More than a century earlier, Christmas is proving to be difficult for Beatrice, too, for she has shadows of her own. Some are cast by her circumstances. She sees the growing prejudice against people like her who are of mixed Cree and Scottish backgrounds. And like Cass, she has a stepmother. Her father's new wife is threatened by Beatrice and is driving a wedge into the family. Beatrice can only be sure of her beloved Cree grandmother, relegated to a room upstairs. When a way of escape presents itself to Beatrice by way of an eligible bachelor, she is torn by the choice it offers her. Should she settle for a man she doesn't love or address the problems at home? Through her journal, she explores the answer and, at the same time, inspires Cass to find the strength she needs to face her own situation. Margaret Buffie's great skill as a storyteller creates a splendid, engaging novel that offers readers a rich combination of fine history, suspenseful shifts in time, and unforgettable characters.From the Hardcover edition.