113. Solstice Magic, by Jean Stringam
This book was unlike anything I've read in a long time--in both good and bad ways.
To start: I absolutely loved the setting--a behind-the-scenes look at the Calgary Stampede (rodeo) in Canada. I loved, too all the bits of Ukranian culture the author threw in. The author's writing style also had some lovely and unexpected phrasings.
The plot itself is a little harder to capture. The story opens with a scene at the Stampede, of a bull rider meeting a petite rodeo clown for the first time and realizing that there's something unusual, even magical, about the clown. But then it takes another fifty or so pages to get back to the bull rider and clown. Instead, the story plunges us into the story of Zo and her parents, and how their lives are disrupted by the arrival of Zo's Baba Dolia (and her over-sized pet with killer instincts) from the Ukraine.
Zo's friends and neighbors (Jaki, Ivan, and their own baba, also Ukranian) try to help Zo make sense of her baba's tendency to disapprove of everything Zo does, particularly her obsession with her new rabbit, Susie Lago. But when Susie mysteriously disappears on the night of Solstice and Zo blames her grandma (and her grandma's dog), the two stories start to intersect. I have to admit, the way the stories intersected surprised me, I think in a good way.
But I found the tone to be a little strange. When we initially got to Zo's story, I assumed she was about ten, from the sound of her voice. So I was surprised (unpleasantly this time) to find that she was actually in high school. I think she consistently acts younger. I was also a little disconcerted initially by all the point of view shifts, including the rabbit's (she's determined to be an Easter Bunny).
So not everything here worked for me, but I thought it was worth reading for the intricate setting. And there were some passages near the end from the point of view of Baba Dolia that I thought were sad and lovely and moving.