13 Gifts

13 Gifts

By Wendy Mass

New York:  Scholastic, 2011.

341 pages Grades 5-8


Tara is just tired of “being the new girl” and trying to fit in to another new school.  At the age of twelve, in a desperate act of trying to fit in with the “popular crowd” Tara agrees to steal the stuffed goat mascot from the principal’s office, in order to get to sit with them at lunch.  The night time stealing event goes horribly wrong and she finds herself suspended from school (because she also peppered sprayed the principal when he surprised her) and in big trouble at home!  Her parents are off to study mating habits of some exotic animal in Madagascar and Tara is sent off to spend the summer in Willow Falls with her younger, geeky, uncool cousin Emily.

Willow Falls is her parents’ old hometown but they have not been back there since Tara was born–not even to visit Tara’s Aunt’s family–nor does anyone talk, about Willow Falls.  Upon arriving, the author Wendy Mass does a great job of introducing her character Tara, to all the kids of Willow Falls—the reader feels like they could be friends with these great quirky kids.  Tara once again has a “stealing incident” only this one she might have to “sell her soul to the devil” to keep from being exposed by Angelina—the woman who catches her.  Tara agrees to collect a list of 13 unique items before her 13th birthday for Angelina a “collector.”  Although the task seems impossible her new friends are happy to help her with her list and the dark mystery that surrounds  Angelina. The reader will love the mystery and friendships formed as Tara continues on her journey of self- discovery. I loved this story and all other books by author Wendy Mass—great coming of age stories!

Author Website:  Wendy Mass


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