Eleven-year-old Shelby has never gotten used to her mother's leaving her to go live in the Louisiana bayou where she grew up. Shelby lives with her father and grandmother and has vowed never to speak to her mother again. But when her father must leave the country for work and her grandmother goes to the hospital, Shelby is forced to stay with her mother in the bayou, which is a place both wild and mysterious to her.
Things get even more mysterious when a strange girl named Gwen turns up in the bayou. She and Shelby vow to become best friends, but something seems not quite right with Gwen. Why has Gwen's family disappeared and left her? Why does she live in a crumbling house on a deserted island? And why is she leaving mysterious notes in bottles in Shelby's mother's blue bottle tree?
As Shelby slowly starts to piece together the clues to Gwen's strange existence, she also learns to stand up to the bullies at her new school and to once again open her heart to the mother that she never thought she could feel close to again.
This is a heartwarming story of finding strength in unusual places, as well as an engaging tale of mystery and suspense. The author does a good job of creating a sense of place as she details the spooky character of the bayou. Recommended for lovers of ghost stories. 2011