Monday, November 17, 2014


Patricia MacLachlan 1995

Patricia MacLachlan is famous for writing Sarah Plain and Tall.  This book also by MacLachlan is so beautiful, simple and heartrending.

When a mother can't care for her baby, she leaves her on an island with a family she's been watching from afar.  Told from the perspective of the 12 year old daughter, and interspersed with unique remembrances, the family learns to care for this unexpected child.  Past hurts and tragedy are brought to the surface and a bittersweet healing begins to take place.  The ending will clutch your heart and (if you're like me) make you shed a tear or two.  Okay, so I walked into Madeleine's room sobbing after I finished reading it!

The memory is this:  a blue blanket in a basket that pricks her bare legs, and the world turning over as she tumbles out.  A flash of trees, sky, clouds, and the hard driveway of dirt and gravel.  Then she is lifted up and up and held tight.  Kind faces, she remembers, but that might be the later memory of her imagination.  Still, when the memory comes, sometimes many times a night and in the day, the arms that hold her are always safe.  

MacLachlan's words are so good to read:

Soon winter would come, the winds shaking the windows of the house, the sea black.  Herring gulls would sit out of the wind on our porch, watching for spring that would come so fast and cold, we would hardly know it was there.  Then summer, visitors would come off the ferry again, flooding us, the air heavy with their voices.  And again, at summer's end they would be gone like the tide, leaving behind small signs of themselves:  a child's pail with a broken handle, a tiny white sock by the water's edge.  Bits and pieces of them left like good-byes.

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