Gr 6-8--In 1946 Canada, Gracie and her mother move to a small, rural town where the girl befriends Luke, a fellow 12-year-old in need of a close friend. Gracie is open, sweet, and enthusiastic, and Luke not only gains a best friend, but also falls a little in love. But single women with children are suspect in the World War II era, and Gracie's mother is not making any friends. In fact, the townsfolk's disapproval trickles down to Gracie, making her life difficult. When a tornado strikes, Luke, Gracie's mother, and the townspeople all have a reckoning, as Gracie disappears. Sherrard has created rich descriptions of the place and its people with the narrative set up as Luke looking back on these events. Throughout the story, he learns and grows, but Gracie plops fully formed and angelic onto the scene, only to be literally lifted up at the end. Although set in a farming community, the main sense that comes across is "small town" with all the good and bad that term connotes. Themes of acceptance and forgiveness are dealt with rather heavy-handedly; the tornado shakes up the town much like Gracie's mother did earlier. The children build a Circle of Truth out of stone and use it as a place of refuge. There is even a magical black woman who helps the youngsters make sense of things. It would be a perfect Oprah book club pick, but seems rather ponderous for a children's book.--Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
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Fitzhenry & Whiteside
September 30, 2010
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