BABY by Patricia MacLachlan

BABY

Age Range: 9 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In a spare novel with the resonance of myth, two troubled families are healed when their paths conjoin. Some years ago on a remote island resembling Nantucket, Larkin's parents are silently mourning the death of a baby they never named and never described to his sister. The day the summer people leave, they find year- old Sophie on their doorstep with a note: ``I will lose her forever if you don't do this, so pleese keep her. I will come back for her one day...'' Papa wants to tell the police, but- -after impassioned discussion--Mama dissuades him. Sophie stays until spring; and though Papa warns ``Don't love her,'' once they've cared for her, and shared her first words, the parting is hard indeed. Yet while Larkin fears this new bereavement-- especially for Mama--love (``That word with a life of its own...flying above all of us like the birds'') opens the door to sharing their grief about their own baby. Once Sophie is gone, their feelings find words--and also lead to the dead baby's being given a name. At the story's beginning, Larkin's parents have abandoned her emotionally (an intriguing contrast to Journey); but Sophie's subsequent memories of her sojourn--in lyrical vignettes plus a poignant last scene of her return visit ten years later--are not of separation but of love: faces, gestures, images. Some circumstances (not least Sophie's being left with strangers so that her mother can care for a desperately ill husband) border on fantasy, yet the almost surreal events convey emotional truths with a power that surpasses literal realism. A searching, beautifully written story. (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-31133-8
Page count: 132pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993




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