Flick and her older brother Jack have a close bond, spending time together and sharing a love of solving riddles each evening. When Jack goes missing following an earthquake while on a gap year trip in Peru Flick is determined to follow the clues to find her beloved brother. Gradually she realises that perhaps the biggest mystery of all is the person you think you know the best.
After Jack’s disappearance Flick discovers a tiny golden key left by her brother with a message mentioning an ‘SF’. As Flick follows the clues first to try and identify the mysterious SF and subsequently to find her missing brother she forms new friendships, is brought closer to a family member and learns much about the brother she thought she knew so well. Alongside her quest Flick is also writing her own mystery story at school and learning of the secret treasures from long ago in ancient Peru and these combine in a book that has strong themes of family, love and friendship.
This is such a clever and thoughtful book. I enjoyed trying to unravel the clues alongside Flick who is an immensely likeable character. The family relationships are depicted with warmth and understanding and these are good, kind people who may sometimes get things wrong. There are lessons here to be learned on the danger of making assumptions, of not allowing children the freedom to follow their own paths and passing judgement without truly knowing the people we are dealing with. Ewa Jozefkowicz‘s writing is filled with an understanding that encourages you to empathise with each of the characters. This would be a fabulous book to prompt discussion and I can see this working well with and being enjoyed by readers from Year 6 upwards.
If we have learned anything at all from 2020 it is not to take things for granted. Most especially not the people who matter to us the most. This is a mystery story with a difference. I loved the gradual development of the separate stories within the story and how they merged to create a whole that encourages the reader to think about the way in which we are connected to one another. Each life in a family and in a community touches others in ways that may not be immediately apparent as we rush around in a state of busyness. Acts of kindness may have lasting effects and create a web of unexpected events. Ewa Jozefkowicz has captured this beautifully.
I should like to thank Fritha Lindqvist and Zephyr Books for kindly providing my review copy.