Oh this book. This Gigantic-fonted 100 paged innocent looking thing. I read it in just an hour or so but it will stick with me for a long time. Patricia MacLachlan is talented. I haven’t read her other works yet (but definitely will) but she writes complex ideas with minimal words. This is a book a young child could read easily, but it is not a simple boring story.
It’s about family (I suspect most of this author’s works are) and how one messy family came together when a flood was threatening their house. Frankie lives in the house her sister and she grew up in, but now, the river is coming and the family wants to help. “That river. She’s a her in my book. She’s been a friend most of these years, bringing boaters who deliver groceries. Bringing birds and beauty. We’ve lived through storms and sunrises and sunsets. Winter Squalls. I want to see how far she’s going to crawl up my hill. I want to know if she’ll come into my house. Sometimes I talk to her at night. She’s great company.”
So the river flood is happening, but as in real life so are a million other things too. Our main character, a child named Lucy secretly wants to be a poet, lives in a family of singers and cannot carry a tune. Her sister is an amazing artist but no one quite knows yet, and it turns out Lucy is the only one who knows her 2 year old brother Teddy can sing like an angel. He doesn’t use words, but every night he sings just to his big sister. The adults have their problems too, but they are all through the lens of a child so it is felt, but not explained. The mother I related to more than I wanted to. Her youngest hasn’t bonded with her as well, and she feels guilt over it. She also wants to be or do something more with her life but can’t quite put her finger on it.
“No, it isn’t you. Mama needs something all her own, that’s all,” he [Dad] says.
He goes out to where Mama is.
“Mama needs more than us,” I say.
“Not really,” says Frankie. “she just doesn’t quite know what she has. She never did. She’ll find that out one day. I promise.”
If you are a mom, you know exactly how that feels, if you aren’t there are other things in the story for you to relate to, and that’s the brilliancy of it all. The whole book reads almost like a long poem, while still being accessible to anyone. More happens, secrets come out and the family comes together. I laugh because the little 2 year old is brilliant but quite. It reminded me so much of my little girl. We were so worried about her because she was a late talker, only to have her bust out counting to over ten shortly after she began saying “Mama.”
Everyone is unique with something to offer. Everyone has secret dreams and hopes and this book gets that. Now, will my daughters like it? Who knows, I am sure there will be things they can relate to with Lucy – like wanting to be good at something like everyone else… but It’s too early to say.
- Author: Patricia MacLachlan
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Copyright: April 8, 2014