Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh’s Seven Clues to Home is a deeply emotional story that alternates perspectives between Joy, who is about to turn 13, and her best friend, Lukas, who narrates from the day of Joy’s 12th birthday—which is also the day of his sudden, untimely death.
Joy and Lukas share August birthdays and have celebrated with a joint scavenger hunt for as long as they can remember. As Lukas’ side of the story opens, he’s preparing the clues that Joy will follow and planning an extra surprise for her. Thanks to the extra money he’s made walking dogs, he’s bought Joy a necklace and written her a letter that will reveal his feelings for her. Before he dies, he leaves the first clue at Joy’s house, where it will stay in her dresser drawer for the next 364 days. Lost in her grief, Joy just can’t bring herself to read it.
When Joy finally reads the clue, she immediately knows where Lukas wants her to go next and decides that she’ll follow wherever his final scavenger hunt leads her. After successfully tracking down the first few clues on her own, she must reach out to her older sister and a former teacher in order to complete Lukas’ final mission.
Polisner and Raleigh brilliantly portray a strong yet tender connection between two young people that not even death can sever. Joy’s narrative voice is credible and compelling, while Lukas’ honest and lively language hits just the right notes. With simple but evocative prose, the authors succeed in weaving threads of peace and hope into a bittersweet story of friendship, tragedy and loss.