Greenglass House is a children’s mystery, probably enjoyed most by upper elementary kids and middle schoolers. Written by Kate Milford, this book goes far beyond the realm of mysteries and suspense in its development of characters and heartfelt emotion. The story takes place during Christmas break at an ancient but gorgeous “smuggler’s” inn, occupied and operated by the Pine family. Greenglass House is as much a character as the people, with its huge, mysterious stained glass windows and shady past. Milo Pine, a 12 year old, is looking forward to a quiet vacation with his parents when when an odd assortment of individuals arrive unexpectedly at their inn. Milo’s world is tipped upside down when he meets Meddy, a stranger who initiates a roleplaying “campaign” to learn more about these peculiar guests. Milo and Meddy are both strong-willed individuals who couldn’t be less alike. Their interactions are priceless.
Milford is a master of layering themes and creating complex events which force characters to confront their motivations and fears. For instance, we learn that Milo struggles with issues related to his adoption and the reaction of others to his appearance (he’s of Asian descent with white parents), torn between loyalty to his loving parents and a desire to know more about his biological family.
Milo and Meddy have no idea what their campaign will uncover and believe me, you will be shocked. But the tenderness and healing, along with wild and wooly events, will keep you riveted to this book. A word of caution: If you are reading this aloud, be prepared to cry in front of your kiddos. The ending is truly amazing.