Saturday, February 27, 2010
Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
The main character is Marly, a 10-year-old girl whose family moves from Pittsburgh to the small town of Maple Hill in hopes that the change of scenery will help her father, who has PTSD from being a POW, readjust to everyday life. The family gets to be good friends with their new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Chris, who make their living selling maple syrup. Marly and her brother Joe learn about "miracles" in nature from Mr. Chris, but at the end of the book, Marly concludes that the real miracles are the change in her father and the love that the community shows for Mr. Chris.
There were very few "wow" moments for me reading this book. The most poignant scene is when Marly's mother objects to Joe's idea of having their hermit neighbor (who lives alone very much in the style of Heidi's grandfather, goats and all!) come stay at their house after an injury. She objects on the grounds that "people like that are dirty". Her father tells them how at the POW camp, all the men were dirty and had lice, and they would take turns picking them off each other. He goes on to say that in conditions like that, you learn what kind of person everyone is, either the kind who helps others or the kind who doesn't. And if Joe wants to help their neighbor, it shows which kind he is, and he wants to encourage that. Needless to say, the neighbor is allowed to come, and this is where Marly's mother realizes that there's not going to be a "back to normal", but a new normal instead.
There are a few things that date the book. Marly feels happy and grown up when her mother says things like "we women will have to begin our cleaning with the kitchen, first thing in the morning", and only when all the men are gone for the afternoon do the two of them "enjoy a nice female time" eating leftovers instead of cooking a real meal. We also learn that Mr. Chris has had a heart attack and must not exert himself in any way - not the post-heart attack advice he'd get now!
Despite the lack of "wow", it is a nice story with a lot of sweet moments, and very readable. On a scale of 1 (unreadable) to 10 (find it and read it NOW!), I give it a 7.