kindred souls

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

Billy has lived on the farm his entire life.  He was raised in the sod house that is now tumbled down and covered by weeds.  Billy is the center of his grandson Jake’s world, especially their walks around the farm together.  Jake gets to see the farm through Billy’s eyes and spend time as his kindred soul.  When Billy gets sick, Jake isn’t worried.  He knows that Billy will live forever.  There’s only one wish that Billy has ever spoken about and that is having another sod house built on the farm.  As Billy recuperates in the hospital, Jake and his older brother and sister decide to build a house for him.  But the job is huge and Billy is coming home soon.  Can they pull off the special surprise?

MacLachlan excels at creating great depth in small packages.  This is another of her very short books that plunges readers into a family and immediately takes up space in your heart.  There is the beauty of a long life lived on a farm that is almost spiritual.  There is a young family that has an elder as their center.  And then there are the small moments that create their days and weave together a story that is bittersweet in the best way.

This small book looks at the role of grandparents in the lives of children in a quiet yet powerful way.  Billy is the center of the book, since he is the center of Jake’s world.  The book, told in the first person by Jake, also explores connections between generations that are strong and true.  The sense of kindred spirits is strong but never overplayed.  This entire book exudes a quiet strength that makes for a compelling read.

A strong book that would make a great read-aloud (especially by grandparents), this book is a beauty.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.