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THE GLORY WIND by Valerie Sherrard Kirkus Star


by Valerie Sherrard

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55455-170-5
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Set on the Canadian prairie, as was Tumbleweed Skies (2009), Sherrard’s latest movingly documents 11-year-old Luke’s coming of age in 1946 as he comes to deeply love his new neighbor, Gracie, also 11. Gracie, endearingly spontaneous and affectionate, is the daughter of Raedine, who sets small-town tongues wagging when she takes a job at the local hotel, also a brothel, and people discover that her child is illegitimate. Luke and Gracie, in their innocence, initially have no idea why the townspeople and their children turn on Gracie. When she’s ostracized at school, Luke becomes her defender, a difficult position after their loving teacher is fired for trying to protect the child from classmates’ bullying. Yet Gracie seems almost ethereally indifferent to her situation. While Luke’s parents don’t shun Raedine, neither will they explain what’s behind the prejudice she and Gracie encounter, leaving him to explore the possibilities. Chapters begin with information about tornadoes, but it isn’t clear until the climax that this foreshadowing is more than just a symbolic representation of the town’s stormy bias. Luke’s first-person narration is fresh and emotionally true, charting his growing awareness of his own human failure to live up to Gracie’s tender yet believable goodness. This haunting depiction of small-mindedness will leave readers wondering, as Luke comes to, about Gracie’s true nature: heavenly child—or angel? (Historical fiction. 10 & up)