Thursday, July 07, 2022

Rising Above Shepherdsville, by Ann Schoenbohm

After the death of her mother, Dulcie loses her home and loses her voice.  Sent to live with her aunt Bernie in rural Shepherdsville OH, she can't talk, but she is a good observer of people.  In addition to silently help her aunt around the house, she spends much of the summer at the local Baptist church, where Reverend Love looks out for her.  A runaway named Faith shows up and gets taken in and becomes Dulcie's companion.  Evangeline, an older woman that the reverend has hired to lead the choir (to much displeasure from the community) sets both girls to work helping her make new choir robes out of scrap fabric.  But most important of all that summer is a family of swans hidden in the rushes near the church that Dulcie sneaks away to observe, imagining them as some sort of link to her deceased mother.

A gentle period piece set in 1977 (although the story itself is timeless) which is beautifully written, but not very adventuresome.  This is the sort of uncontroversial children's book that used to be more common.  The basic coming-of-age tale in which Dulcie comes to terms with the loss of her mother, learns some life lessons about honesty and kindness, and has some nice interactions with the three adults in her life.  There's nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it isn't really anything new (and books like Because of Winn Dixie have probably done it better).

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