Chasing Redbird (book review)

Dear Reader,

This is something new for me–a book review. We just finished listening to the aduio CDs of Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech. I really enjoyed this book, and my 8 and 10 year olds seemed to too. The 6 year old paid some attention, but I think most of it was beyond him. The audio version was very well done. The accents and storytelling added a lot to the story.

The book itself is the story of a young girl named Zinnia who has lost her aunt and cousin, is being pursued by an older boy by somewhat questionable means, and finds an old, hidden trail through the woods which she decides to clear. The story moves back and forth through these storylines and through time as well. It does so very smoothly though. I had no problems following it and I don’t think my older kids did either.

It is not a very old book–the sister for instance has a computer–but it has the feel of a classic. It is a tale of people who cannot quite come to terms with what they have lost. I love these stories of kids out on their own, immersed in nature, finding themselves. Why are these stories appealing? Why do we feel the need to be all alone, perferably outside, to deal with hard things? I posted recently on finding our identity in Christ (see here) that we define ourselves by the people and things around us and how will we deal with it if all those things are swept away? Maybe this is why I am intrigued by these stories of people going out all alone; they are leaving everything else and just have to be alone with themselves and God.

The book did make me wonder how much kids (and maybe adults too) keep inside that those aroudn them are not aware of. Zinnia blames herself for her cousin’s death because she caught whooping cough from her. Now on a grown-up level, we are all aware this is not Zinnia’s fault and the adults in the story don’t blame her. But you can completely see a kid blaming themselves. And no one in the story thinks to ask Zinnia about this, to make sure she is okay with it.

Ironically, I wonder how this book affected by 8yo dd Sparrow. Sparrow has type 1 diabetes and the aunt character in the book has diabetes (the book doesn’t say but it is presumably type 2) and dies from it. So far Sparrow hasn’t asked me about this. The diabetes is a fairly small part of the story. I had no idea it was coming or that it would prove fatal for the aunt so I couldn’t either prepare her ahead of time or avoid the book for that reason. So do I ask Sparrow what she thought of that part? Or do I let it go because maybe she didn’t particularly notice it and it will upset her more if I bring it up?



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