Sisters Jules and Sylvie are inseparable, until one day Sylvie disappears—a revelation that forever changes Jules.
The preteens live with their widowed father near the Slip, a river in a wooded area. Steadfast Jules loves collecting rocks and adores her one-year-older sister. The two love building snow families, including lucky snow foxes, together. Sylvie is more adventuresome, and when her free spirit decides to venture toward the Slip, Jules never sees her again and her world is shattered.
Concurrently, amid Jules’ grief and attempt to return to a life “After Sylvie,” a fox cub is born in the forest—and the term “spirit animal” soon takes on a new meaning. The cub, Senna, realizes something is very different about herself and the world around her. Something seems off, unsettled, mysterious.
Senna learns she is a rare “Kennen”: “Some believe that the Kennen are meant to finish something that isn’t finished, to settle something that needs to be settled. Others say that a Kennen’s true purpose is to help in some way, big or small.” Elements from Jules’ and Sylvie’s lives, as well as interweaving storylines from their friends, soon intersect with that of Senna.
This book is reminiscent of the supernatural elements in Kathi Appelt’s excellent and Newbery Honor-winning The Underneath. There’s much more than meets the eye, as Jules and Senna both learn in a satisfying denouement that marries spirit animal with spirited young girl.