Because my son is so young, I’m just beginning to re-familiarize myself with middle grade fiction; I haven’t really read much since I was a youngster. I remember really loving the gentle rural setting of Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was a young girl: it was one of my favorite books. When I saw a new book by Ms MacLachlan, I thought I’d give it a try; the publisher, via LibraryThing Early Reviewers, sent me a copy for review consideration. I’m also delighted to see Ms MacLachlan has an extensive back list of titles to explore.
Patricia MacLachlan’s Kindred Souls (2012, Katherine Tegen Books) is set in a pleasant contemporary rural setting, a setting that I’m not familiar with as a suburban dweller myself. Young Jake treasures his friendship with his aging grandfather, Billy, who longs for the simplicity of his childhood. Jake and Billy visit the rundown sod house in which Billy was born and raised, and Billy challenges Jake to rebuild it. Although Jake does not feel he can do such a hard project, his love for his grandfather prompts him to try.They are “kindred souls,” afterall.
Kindred Souls is a story of inter-generational love, an inspirational story of a child who succeeds in doing a hard thing, and a gentle reminder to enjoy life now, for life is fleeting. Parents should be away that the easy-to-read middle-grade novel addresses a tough issue, the obviously approaching death of the boy’s elderly grandfather. Not every child will be ready to consider mortality, but for those that are, Ms MacLachlan treats it with tenderness. I doubt children will be disturbed by any implications. The novel is a sweet reflection on a grandparent/child relationship, and the rural farm setting provides a unique perspective on life for a young reader.
I enjoyed Kindred Souls and I look forward to reading more middle-grade fiction as my son gets older.