Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beautiful and Powerful

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

Adolescent Drama/Realistic Fiction

MacLachlan has quickly risen to the top of my favorite author list.  Her prose is like the finest poetry, no less powerful for its brevity.  Indeed, I marvel that she is able to pack such emotion and meaning into such few words, like a little packet of word dynamite.

Jake and Billy are kindred souls, more than just grandson and grandfather.  They're always together and always know just what to say to each other.  But, on a walk around their farm one day, Billy starts reminiscing about the old sod house where he grew up.  He tells Jake he would love to see the old sod house again, rebuilt on the same spot.  Jake is resistant to the idea and doesn't quite know why.  Jake, and his brother and sister, resist Billy's request until Billy is taken to the hospital and they realize they don't have much time left with him, that the sod house might be his last request of them ever.

I'm not sure why this has not yet been nominated for 1000 awards yet; it surely deserves to!  I did have some students confused by the way the story is narrated.  They couldn't figure out that 'Billy' was the grandfather.  "Why not just call him 'grandfather', then?" they wanted to know.  Other than that, they all said they loved the story, too.  The ending was so sad and so beautiful.  It is a story that can sensitively teach about the loss of a grandparent, the importance of family connections and how multi-generational families work.

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