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Gary Paulsen has painful memories of his mother but some wonderful memories of his grandmother, Alida. He spent summers with Alida and one summer, as a six-year-old boy, was particularly memorable. Alida and young Gary are driven on an old, lumbering truck to cousin Kristina’s home to be with her as she is expecting. The boy learned of all the fun animals on a farm along with all the chores even a young boy can help with. But he learned something even more important about people… about the community of family.
The men are all away at war so the women are about the business of taking care of the farms. Kristina works up to the day she goes into labor. Young Gary tries to figure out what is going on but the kitchen full of women shoo him aside. And when he hears the cries of labor he runs out the door.
But Gary is blessed to be allowed to sit in the circle around the community quilt. There he learns the special history of the quilt as the ladies tell stories of their family members who are no longer there.
The story was simple in its presentation but deeply moving in emotional impact. I had never read Gary Paulsen so I did not pick this up because of the author. I thought it sounded interesting. As it started I wasn’t immediately pulled in but then I began to be interested in the historical elements. Then it moved into the emotional aspects and I was punched in the gut with the beauty of the precious memories shared. This may be written for young people but it is a gem for adults too.
Audio Notes: Susan Ericksen is a wonderful narrator and I recognized her voice immediately as the voice of JD Robb’s In Death series. I had to adjust my listening to her narration of this totally different work. I loved how she does grandmother’s Norwegian accent, adding the extra touch to the narration. I am very glad I got this on audio.
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