Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan (Published by HarperCollins, July 26, 2005)
Rachel Sheridan was born and raised in British East Africa, the daughter of British missionary parents who ran a hospital there. Africa is the only home Rachel has ever known, and she loves it. But everything changes in 1919, when Rachel is thirteen. An influenza epidemic arrives and takes the lives of her parents. Because her parents were orphans, Rachel has no family to turn to, and is caught up in the devious plans of their wealthy neighbors, the Pritchards.
The Pritchards lost their daughter Valerie, who was Rachel's age, in the epidemic. Valerie was about to leave to visit her grandfather in England, and the Pritchards force Rachel to impersonate Valerie and take her place. They hope Rachel will win the grandfather's heart and persuade him to leave his estate and money to the Pritchards. Rachel is devastated to leave her beloved Africa and travel to cold, lonely England. She finds herself coming to care for her "Grandfather," but hates living a lie, and fears the Pritchards will someday follow her to England. At the same time, she is determined to find a way to return to Africa and reopen her parents' hospital.
Listening for Lions is another excellent historical novel by Gloria Whelan, who is one of my favorite authors. Rachel was a very likable and determined character, and I loved the unique storyline and historical setting -- the author brought the African and British settings to life. I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other books by Gloria Whelan or who love historical fiction.