This fiction book is the first in the "Boarding School Mysteries” series by Kristi Holl and is published by ZonderKidz, a division of Zondervan.
Fading Tracks is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Twelve-year-old Jeri McKane lives far from home at Landmark boarding school. When her roommate, Rosa, and a van full of classmates vanish, the school and parents rush to solve the mystery of the girls' whereabouts. Jeri is confused by the headmaster's secretive behavior and the lies of the reporter who's called in to help crack the case. Eventually, Jeri feels God leading her to investigate a nearby abandoned house in the woods. There, she finds the girls and their missing teacher and uncovers the truth about their disappearance.
Jeri prays often for God's help and guidance. She often recalls verses from the Bible when she needs wisdom. The story of Gideon serves as an inspiration to Jeri while planning an escape for her kidnapped friends. She decides to search the woods for her classmates because she believes she senses God telling her to look there — although she does question whether she's being guided by God or is just "doing something stupid.”
Jeri's mother lives far from her daughter; she is sometimes hard to reach because of her busy work schedule. She demonstrates deep concern for her daughter when Rosa goes missing, and Jeri's mother encourages Jeri with Scripture and prayer. The headmaster appears stern and secretive, even to the extent that Jeri suspects foul play. Another teacher reveals to Jeri that the headmaster has had a tragic past and deeply loves her students. Mr. Langley, a wealthy parent who provides several scholarships including Jeri's, throws his financial weight around and is rude and critical in the midst of the investigation. He does indicate his gratitude to Jeri at the end, but he appears to do it more for a photo opportunity than out of sincerity.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What do you think about Jeri's choice to go out riding on her own in search of the abandoned house?
Is there a less dangerous choice she could have made that might have still helped her friends?
- What does Jeri do when Betty, the secretary, receives a mysterious phone call while Betty is away from her desk?
What could Jeri have done instead of lying?
- Have you ever thought God might be telling you to do something, like Jeri does when she feels God leading her to the woods?
How can you know whether you are following a message from God or just doing what you want to do?
- Why do you think the headmaster seems mean?
Have you ever formed an opinion about someone before you knew much about him or her?
How can you try to understand people who have gone through difficult times?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.