STAINED GLASS by Michael Bedard


Age Range: 11 - 15
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Bedard (Painted Devil, 1994, etc.) returns again to the Canadian town of Caledon for an understated foray into magical realism. Fourteen-year-old Charles is quiet and introspective, with the deliberate fragility of not-quite-healed. In a rundown church, Charles witnesses an accident that shatters one of the ancient stained-glass windows, and discovers a homeless teenage girl bleeding in a pew, apparently a victim of amnesia. This small incident engenders his obsession with helping the strange girl find her way home. Their surreal journey through the town triggers Charles’s cascading memories of his childhood. Meanwhile, the church’s caretaker works frenetically to piece together the shards of the broken window, accompanied by memories of his own past. Although the sources of Charles’s own wounds are eventually revealed, and the girl’s mysterious origins strongly suggested, there is very little story here. Instead, there is a series of finely etched observations and lapidary musings on the nature of memories, how fragments of the past persist to make up the pattern of our individual selves. Bedard’s language is evocative and poetic, rich in metaphor and symbol. Events unfold with a dream-like logic, as the miraculous is made matter-of-fact, while ordinary objects take on outsized significance. Not for everyone, or even for most, but a small gem awaiting the special reader. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-88776-552-1
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Tundra
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001


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