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NORTH OF EVERYTHING by Craig Crist-Evans


by Craig Crist-Evans

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-2098-X
Publisher: Candlewick

A spare, poignant piece about a quiet farming family’s loss, sorrow, and recovery. A young boy, narrating in minimalist first-person verses, moves from Miami to northern Vermont—north of everything. His parents’ new farm provides “good clean dirt” and a centering stillness. The family of three is calmly settled until Dad gets “skinny as a fence rail.” Despite jokes that Dad’s losing the same weight that pregnant Mom is gaining, the boy knows something is wrong. Dad soon dies of cancer. Mom cares for the boy and his baby sister but turns despairingly to whiskey. She stops drinking after a while, though, and bits of lightness creep slowly back into their lives. By the end, the boy’s driven the tractor himself for the first time; the baby—whom the boy calls “Spanky”—says “Dad” as her first word. Painful, but this family’s learned how “to keep on breathing,” and Vermont’s pastures, air, and soil will continue to help. Gentle and contemplative. (Fiction. 10-14)