Lee Ann is a teen who lives with her grandmother in Texas. She’s a flute player in her band at school along with her best friend, Bethany. But Lee Ann isn’t your typical teen: she is in remission from cancer.
Resting at home one day in her room, she plays her flute. Her avian companion is a Carolina wren that has been singing outside her bedroom window all summer. To her surprise, the wren mimics her song and hops onto her windowsill. But when the wren speaks to her, knows that her real name is Leandra, and insists that they need to leave for a place called Finian Jahndra immediately, a shocked Leandra is spirited away to help a land that is suffering much as she has.
Amazingly, in this land, Lee Ann is whole. Along the way, she meets all sorts of birds who help her in a quest to remove a canker that is killing the land. And then she meets the prince. He scowls and tells her wren, Songcatcher, that Lee Ann is too young and small to help them. As they travel together to find the heart of the land, Lee Ann’s flute becomes a living thing that causes Lee Ann to play the most beautiful music while it defends them. Then they come upon an owl named Allseer, and Leandra’s quest is cemented. She must rid this land of an illness because she has suffered herself and knows how.
I just read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which is another book about childhood cancer. The difference between TFiOS and this one is the intended audience, I think. This is an allegory, written in a very straightforward manner. The tale does not take any detours into romance or death or the sadness of families. It seems to be for a child who has suffered either with or near cancer, and says “you have fought the fight, and survived. Take great comfort in that.” For someone who needs to know they’ve beaten the enemy.
So I must say this: if this story is for a reader in the Juvenile age group, let’s say younger than 13, then it works. But if it is intended for a more Young Adult crowd, there’s not enough that happens in the story to keep their interest. The formality of the manner of speaking, the fact that I felt I was being told exactly what to feel, and going directly from Point A to Point B left me unsatisfied. It was a nice story that is perfect for the 8-12 age range.
3 of 5 Stars (Based on Ink and Page’s Rating System)
Genres: Juvenile Fiction Fantasy Illness
You might want to know: Nothing of note.
Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Katy Huth Jones was published January 13, 2012 by Cool Well Press. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.