Sunday, May 23, 2010

ZEN & XANDER UNDONE by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Two sisters who are totally different join together to solve a mystery.  After the death of their mother less than a year ago, Zen (Athena) and Xander (Alexandra) are looking for ways to carry on.  Their father is hiding out in his new basement bedroom and pretty much ignoring the girls.

Xander is and has always been the wild one, but since their mother's death her behavior has become completely defiant and even dangerous.  Zen is worried.

Zen is all about control.  Her interest in martial arts is just one example.  The discipline, the ceremony, and the rigid standards are perfect for her.  The emotional upheaval of losing her mother has her searching for stability.

The girls begin receiving letters and packages from their mother, sent by a mysterious someone.  The items arrive on special occasions like Christmas, Mother's Day, and birthdays.  When Zen and Xander attempt to discover the identity of the mysterious sender, they stumble across a secret life their mother has hidden for years.  Did she have an affair?  How long did it last?  Was their parents' marriage in jeopardy?

In an effort to uncover the secret, the girls question neighbors, relatives, and even the family lawyer.  They are determined to find the answers they seek no matter the consequences.

ZEN & XANDER UNDONE is an excellent addition to any collection of books for teenage girls.  Amy Kathleen Ryan takes readers on an emotional ride as her believable characters face the challenge of surviving the loss of their mother and finding a way to move on toward whatever the future might hold.  She combines heartbreaking emotions with humor and a bit of fun to capture readers and take them into the lives of Zen and Xander.

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