_Crossing the Starlight Bridge_ is an extremely insightful novel for children that touches on both the imperfections of family as well as the importance of culture and identity. The protagonist, a young Penobscot girl from Maine, is unwillingly transplanted from an island where she lives with other Penobscot families and friends to the mainland, over the "starlight bridge". The reason for this move is that her father has left her mother, and for financial reasons they are forced to go live with her grandmother on the mainland. Of course all of this change is devastating for a young girl who feels robbed of everything familiar and comfortable in her life on the island, including her family, house, and Penobscot culture. Rayanne, the protagonist, is unwillingly forced to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Alice Mead does an excellent job of expressing the thoughts and feelings of this young girl as she struggles with the separation of her parents, resentment toward her mother and father, and the less peaceful ways of the mainland. Adapting to this new life is not easy for Rayanne, but her grandmother, who has learned to embrace Penobscot culture and yet function in the culture of the mainland, makes this transition much easier for her.
The grandmother's character is wonderfully written, and exudes comfort and stories and all that grandmothers should be. She is an imaginative woman, and sparks Rayanne's imagination through her own stories of Penobscot culture. As a result of this support, Rayanne is able to rebuild her life on the mainland and find her own niche with new friends and her family.
This is an excellent book for any child, but I think that kids who are dealing with major changes in their lives, especially their parents' divorce or separation, would especially appreciate _Crossing the Starlight Bridge_.