Alison Lohans has published 22 books, many of which have been finalists for awards such as the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award. This Land We Call Home won the 2008 Saskatchewan Book Award for YA Literature. Her recent novels for young people include River Rat and Collapse of the Veil. She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Short-listed for the 2011 Saskatchewan Book Awards: Childrenâ€™s Literature Award and Regina Book Award
Who is the girl staring out of the old photograph? Every time Alyssa Dixon looks at it, even by accident, she finds herself on an Iowa farm in 1931. The past is nothing like Alyssas unhappy life her mother severely depressed after the stillbirth of Alyssas baby sister; escalating bullying by Brooklynne, a popular girl; and a teacher who is unsympathetic toward Alyssas familys pacifist beliefs.
Why cant Alyssa live in the past with her new friend, Deborah? Yet Alyssa is always pulled back to the present, where things only get worse. Maybe the farm isnt so idyllic, though. Deborahs mother is ill with a difficult pregnancy, and theres so much work. A series of old family photos shows Alyssa unsettling things about Deborahs family things Deborah seems not to know. Can Alyssa help the baby be born safely, and at the same time work through the overwhelming problems at home?
In the hands of experienced writers Buffie [author of Winter Shadows] and Lohans, the shifts between past and present are easily navigated by readers. The brooch in Winter Shadows and the photograph in Picturing Alyssa both operate smoothly to convey characters through time and space. At first stricken with confusion, and then with growing understanding and control, these two protagonists are strikingly convincing within the suspension of disbelief conjured by good fantasy. Both books are highly recommended for ages 11 and up.
The strongest scenes of this book are those describing Alyssa's relationships with her family. Her interactions with her brother are realistic and touching as they both deal with their parents' neglect. The characters of the great-grandmother's family are well-drawn and their interactions with each other and with Alyssa are convincing.
...readers will connect with Alyssa and her increasing frustration with her home situation.
...an interesting read, pushing readers to think about ideas in our high-pressure, fast-paced society.
The author tells a gripping story and has the reader trying to solve the problems, and yet wondering how it could possibly work out.
4 out of 5 stars.