Naomi has experienced more than her fair share of tragedy. Her mother passed away from a disease and her father died as a result of a dog attack that also left Naomi's arm mangled. After the accident, Naomi was taken in by an older couple who raised her as their own, and in their care she's grown to love her surroundings, even her talkative and at times, overwhelmingly dramatic, best friend,
Lizzie. One day, Naomi and Lizzie witness a strange boy fall from a tree. He has no idea where he is, and speaks in an unfamiliar accent, but Naomi is instantly drawn to him. The unusual boy holds a mysterious connection to her own caregivers, and both Naomi and Lizzie's lives will soon change drastically because of it.
Sharon Creech was one of my favorite authors when I started reading chapter books in elementary school. She writes fantastic stories with twists and turns that are always surprising, and on top of that, manages to write about real issues in a way that doesn't scare off her young readers. This book was full of tragic pasts, but the language and dialogue was so poignant and the characters so resilient that it was easy to fall in love with the little town and all of it's quirky residents and strange secrets. The one drawback of the story is that it is dialogue-driven, so there is little action to pull in young readers who have trouble keeping their attention on slowly-winding plots. Despite that, I would recommend this to any young reader, and love the idea of it as a book club choice, as it would prompt excellent discussions about family and belief in the extraordinary.
Recommended for ages 8-12 (grades 3-7)
Bottom Line Rating: 4/5
Title: The Great Unexpected
Author: Sharon Creech
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2012
Price: $14 (on Amazon)
Source: Public Library