Quicksand Pond, hidden off the Rhode Island coast, is a place of lingering mystery and illumination for a pair of 12-year-old girls.
When Jessie Kettel arrives with her family to spend the summer in a rental cottage, she finds an old raft and meets Terri Carr, who tells her about two boys who drowned there and a long-ago murder in a huge house on the edge of the pond. The daughter of those murdered parents survived, and old lady Henrietta Cutting still lives in the house.
Jessie learns that the wrong person was imprisoned for the murders: Terri’s great-great-grandfather. The consequences of this injustice continue to the present, as Terri’s family is still considered “no good.” When Terri is forced to hide from her abusive father in a makeshift camp on the edge of the pond, she and Jessie form a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn-type friendship. Meanwhile, Henrietta watches the pair through binoculars, struggling to find a way to make her long-ignored voice heard. Gradually, Jessie finds herself becoming “sucked into” Terri’s messy, difficult life, and so she retreats from her friend just when she is needed most. Quicksand is everywhere, it seems.
When Terri is accused of setting fire to the Cutting home, history seems to be repeating itself. Jessie learns some wrenching lessons about discrimination and judgment, and her testimony becomes crucial to her friend’s future.
Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle has written a riveting chronicle of a monumental summer, one with no easy answers.