Ok… so I know that everyone else out there has already figured this out, but Deborah Wiles can really write. I’ve been put off Love, Ruby Lavender because I didn’t think I could stand the sweetness. After reading this, I am now prepared to persevere.
I love this book. I really do. It has taught me some important things:
1) More novels need to contain recipes.
2) I can learn to love – and not be annoyed by – characters with completely outrageous names like Comfort and Peach and Declaration (well maybe not Declaration… still pretty annoying).
3) Just because a story has a strong streak of down-home country charm doesn’t mean it can’t be every bit as important as pretentious “literary” stuff that 6 people in the world claim to understand.
I’ve always found it hard to believe people who say, “I finished the book and I loved it so much I just turned straight back to page one and started all over again.” I don’t do that sort of thing. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever done that sort of thing. Wiles’s book has many moments that could stand up to immediate rereading, that’s for sure.
In my estimation, this is definitely an “Openmind” title (a book to challenge and change kids’ perspectives), because Wiles does not shy away from bringing kids face to face with how devastating death can be. I’m sure some children would find this book pretty difficult, especially if they had experienced a loss. I don’t quite know how I’d pitch it to parents at the bookstore. Just about any combination of the words “funeral home,” “kid,” and “death” usually get mom and dad antsy. Not exactly the best birthday party pick. All the same, I’m glad that Wiles was able to prevent herself from making everything turn out all perfect in the end. I know I will find a way to frame it because it is an outstanding piece of fiction. I cried – we’re talking messy tears here (fortunately I was in the tub). Very few books make me cry like that. It really should have won the E.B. White Sob Aloud Award.
I am eager to read her latest, and to give Ruby Lavender a proper chance, sweetness and all.
Each Little Bird that Sings is published by Harcourt.