MESSENGER by Virginia Frances Schwartz


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Schwartz (If I Just Had Two Wings, not reviewed, etc.) draws on family history for this ponderous but lyrically written tale of a growing clan of Croatian immigrants struggling to get by in Depression-era Canada. Though Frances, born just a week after the death of her father in a mining accident, narrates, the central figures here is her mother, who works herself nearly to death raising three children while running in succession an isolated farm and two boarding houses. Writing from the beginning with an adult’s sensibility, Frances records her own birth and childhood; feeling herself “born in shadow,” she shares with her grieving mother a sense that her father is “still a part of us, a spell unbroken,” despite the passage of years, and the family’s steadily expanding circle of relatives and new arrivals. Rich in emotional nuance, Frances’s account is weighted with a sense of loss, yes, but also laced with dreams, visions (even, once, an angel’s visitation), epiphanies and, after 16 years of sorrow, the prospect of a new and brighter future. Readers who stay the course will be rewarded with an affecting tale of hardships overcome. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-8234-1716-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002


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