Theresa Martin Golding

Macey McCallister, “Niner” to her classmates, is missing a lot of things – her thumb, her birth parents, her history – and now her adoptive mother has disappeared as well.  So one morning when Macey finds a locket on her front lawn, she is convinced that it is a sign, something placed there just for her.  But when others seem to want the locket as well, Macey, her sister Deena, and their friends are unwittingly drawn into the middle of a frightening and dangerous game.  In the midst of this danger, Macey must confront an ugly truth.  Was it her fault that Mom left?  Was it time for her to find her birth parents?  From the innocent discovery of the locket to the surprise revelation of its significance, Macey is faced with a question that will affect the rest of her life.  When she finds the answer, she also discovers something of great importance – the place she truly belongs.

The space where my thumb should be was aching.  Deena never believes me when I tell her that.  “Things that aren’t there can’t hurt you,” she always says.  But they do.  And I should know.
Reviewers' Quotes
"...wonderful, heart wrenching book...I loved the book and I loved the characters and I loved how real the writing was. I can't say enough about this book!'s really a great book.

"The working-class Philadelphia setting comes to life, and the turmoil of children struggling to understand adult issues rings true."  -Kirkus

"Macey's longing for her mother is compelling and understandable, and her relationship with her stroppy, willful, and yet beloved younger sister is tenderly depicted."  -The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The characterizations are distinctive...Foreshadowing ratches up the tension, and readers will race to the conclusion, which solves the mystery, but avoids pat answers."  -Booklist

"...Golding nails the Philadelphia setting of this novel....The characters are well-developed and well-defined and the reader identifies with Macey at every turn....The pacing and development of the plot keep the reader engaged....It is a bittersweet story with much heart, most of it Macey's."  -TriState Reviews
Author's Notes
The Title
The Dedication
Ordering Information
Niner can be purchased from Your Local Bookstore or ordered on line.  Click any of the links below.
If you have ever lived in a city, you know that the buses run through neighborhoods and stop at various corners to pick up passengers.  I rode the bus a lot growing up, but it did not stop at my corner.  I wondered what it would be like to live in the house right at the bus stop and everyday to have a small crowd of people gathered just outside your front door. Would you get to know them?  Would there be some who you tried to avoid or who you were afraid of?  My very first thoughts when I began Niner were simply of a girl who lived by a bus stop in the city and who somehow got mixed up in the lives of the strangers who waited everyday for that bus.  The story of Macey grew out of that simple idea. 

I was not adopted.  I lived with my parents and my brothers and sisters in a row house in Philadelphia.  My grandparents and my cousins lived close by.  I knew that I was Irish and German, that my brown hair came from my mother and my freckles from my father.  I had a history and a place where I belonged.  Macey has none of that.  I imagined what it must feel like to not know your own history, to wonder about your birth parents and the circumstances that caused them to give you up for adoption.  I have a good friend named Meg who was adopted when she was a baby.  Whenever I was unsure if Macey's feelings rang true, I would call Meg and she would share her experiences with me and let me know if I was on the right track. 

I used bits and pieces of different Philadelphia neighborhoods to create Macey's home.  The church steps that Macey stands atop in the first chapter are those of St. Ambrose on the Roosevelt Boulevard.  The noisy El tracks that she walks under later in the story are in Frankford.  The jewelry story is one I remembered from Mayfair.        
Macey's classmates call her Niner because she has only nine fingers.  She doesn't mind the nickname too much, except when Zach uses it.  He's the only one who uses it in a mean way.
Joe and Pam are my brother- and sister-in-law.  I feel lucky that they are part of my family.  They are good and generous people who are fun to be around and who have a strong sense of family. 

Meg is my good friend who helped me any time I had an adoption question during the writing of Niner.  Ty is her beautiful and talented adopted daughter. 
Penna. State Library Assoc. Top Forty Pick
YALSA 2009 Best Books for Young Adults
Kansas State Reading Circle 2009 Recommended Reading List