This book beautifully depicts what life might be like as viewed by a 10-year-old girl with an unusual disability. Antoinette exhibits signs of autism but her “dis”ability is different – she also has an amazing power to heal. Antoinette can hear a sort of song in her surroundings – in other people and in nature. By touching and humming, she connects with the illness in a living thing and seemingly removes it. But healing comes at a cost and her mother, Rose, is desperate to protect her daughter from herself. Rose is very ill and she knows that allowing Antoinette to cure her could be disastrous for her daughter. Desperate times call for desperate measures which means Rose must swallow past hurts and mend fences with her sister, Lily, in the hopes of convincing her to act as Antoinette’s mother when Rose no longer can.
Antoinette understands language very well but she can’t form the words. The author, who is the mother of a child with a disability that affects speech, marvelously imagines and describes Antoinette’s point of view and the frustration of being unable to communicate effectively. The novel contains a few elements that may put off some readers – shifting points of view and time periods, not much of a plot, and a controversial ending – but Stephanie Knipper deserves credit for giving voice to a unique and very memorable character in this heart-breaking story set on a Kentucky flower farm