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The Great Unexpected

I needed a light easy read, with a little intrigue, and a happy ending.  Children’s book author and Newbery winner Sharon Creech delivered in her newest book for middle school readers – The Great Unexpected.  Like Naomi, Creech’s main character, I wondered:

“…if we find the people {or books} we need when we need them…”

In this coming of age tale about two forlorn Irish American orphans, Creech connects the friendship of two young girls to a mysterious benefactor “across the ocean” and a cast of eccentric townspeople, who all seem related.  The delightful girls are complements for each other: Naomi, curious but cautiously quiet, is suspicious of dogs since one mauled her as a baby and killed her father; Lizzie, an outgoing chatterbox, longs for her foster parents to adopt her.  The action is stirred by mysterious characters: Finn, an attractive yet strange Irish boy who drops out of a tree, and the Dingle Dangle man, an outsider who seems to be investigating the girls.  Creech sustains the mystery with props that later explain the resolution – a crooked bridge, trunks full of old treasures, and a pair of rooks.

Thankfully, this is a children’s book, so the Agatha Christie ending – complete with dead bodies – is fully explained.  All live happily ever after, Naomi learns to love dogs, and the story will leave you with satisfied impressions of familial love and friendship – and some choice phrasing to ponder:

“…all the while, I felt relieved that Joe had not left a trunk.  I didn’t need dead trunk things.  If I closed my eyes, I would see {him}…and hear {him}…”

“You get up and then you go on.”

“I wondered if things that seem frightening could lose their hold over you.”

“I would tell myself, ‘I’m not in the story’…but it didn’t help because a story was only interesting if I was in the story.”

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