Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor
Pride and her two younger siblings, Nightingale and Baby, live with their grandfather, Old Finn. They live on a remote property that Old Finn calls Eden. But when Old Finn enters the hospital and is then transferred to Duluth for more serious treatment, it is left to Pride to care for her family. She had been taught by Old Finn not to rely on charity from others, so she makes sure to not accept help that she can’t pay for. She also knows that if anyone finds out that they are alone at Eden except for Miss Addie, an elderly woman who lives on the property but can’t care for them, they will be taken into foster care. The three children had already been in care when their mother died, before Old Finn came and rescued them. But even on their remote property, there are people who notice that something is wrong in Eden. The question is whether Pride can keep her huge secret until Old Finn returns or not.
O’Connor is the author of Sparrow Road, which was one of my favorite middle school reads the year it came out. She manages to write books that are ideal for tweens but read more like teen books, with pressing issues and serious consequences. She populates her novels with remarkable characters, adult and child alike. The three siblings here are all unique and read like human beings with their own points of view on everything that happens. Seeing it all through Pride’s eyes is an important part of the story, offering her specific viewpoint and moxie about the entire situation.
Historical fiction, set during the Nixon resignation, this book is about the strength of family, resilience and the power of sheer determination. At the same time, it is also about community and the importance of all of us being connected as neighbors and as a larger people. O’Connor’s writing is beautifully done, gliding and light as life tumbles by unstoppable.
A great pick for middle grade readers, this is the story of an unforgettable family. Appropriate for ages 10-12.
Reviewed from copy received from G. P. Putnam’s Sons.