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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Review: The Great Unexpected

Author: Sharon Creech

Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade, Magical Realism
Target audience: 9+
Release date: 1st November 2012
UK Publisher: Andersen Press
ISBN: 978-1849390927


The Great Unexpected is a contemporary story of friendship, loss, first love and life’s wonderful mysteries.

Naomi has never liked the unexpected. She’s always felt there was something terrible about it. She lives with Nula and Joe in the town of Blackbird Tree. She has a best friend called Lizzie. Lizzie is known for her constant talking and asking of questions. She sings a lot too. They live a happy, outdoorsy life and though both Naomi and Lizzie have no biological parents, they are loved. At the very beginning of the story, a boy falls from a tree. Something most unexpected and he is a catalyst for many strange happenings.

Meanwhile, there is another story unfolding alongside this one. Mrs Kavannagh across the ocean in Ireland is plotting her revenge. She has rather a fondness for murder and so the author plays with our expectations about this.

I really enjoyed this book. It was full of quirkiness. Immediately you get a sense of Sharon Creech’s voice – it’s a kooky, it’s imaginative and it’s heartfelt too. Her way of playing with words is wonderful. You can tell that she thinks about how the words sound next to each other – like poetry. And this lyrical magical style really suited the story too. It’s undoubtedly a real life story and yet there were hints of the fantastical there – a witch, fairy rings, the mystical wind and something like a miracle too.

I did find that when the story switched to Ireland, I got lost. My concentration lapsed and I lost what was happening. I had to put the book down and come back to it. But that is no bad thing; sometimes a book should be read a little more slowly. It gives you time to ponder the big questions.

I also loved that the author left some things unexplained at the end. The reader was left to make up their own mind about the question at the heart of the book – what is real?

This was a joy to read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. My student book group are reading this and they are all raving about it. The Great Unexpected is an utterly charming and rewarding read.

Recommended for fans of:

Discussion Questions can be found on Sharon Creech’s website. Just click here: http://www.sharoncreech.com/teach-creech


So Many Books, So Little Time said...

This sounds fantastic. I read one of Sharon Creech's verse novels years and years ago and really loved it.

Jesse Owen said...

This sounds right up my street, thanks for a fab review!