Sharon Creech is a very talented author-- I say that having only read a few of her books: the picture book "A Fine, Fine School", and two quirky poetry-laced books "Love that Dog" and my personal favorite, "Hate that Cat".
I picked up "The Great Unexpected" quite by accident, randomly seeing it on the New Titles shelf at my local library. I actually got it for my 10-year-old daughter, but I ended up reading it first. I adored this story.
I'm so glad I chose this excellent little book. I went into it without knowing much about the story, and I would recommend you do the same. It's a beautifully woven little tale about two orphaned girls on the brink of adolescence and the unexpected events one summer that change their lives. I don't want to give too much away, but there's a freckle-faced boy, eccentric elderly folks and, across the ocean, remarkable things happening in Ireland. Naturally, Creech weaves the two stories together beautifully.
I love the way she uses language to tell the story-- the girls are funny, smart, and very relatable. I loved when the main girl, Naomi, describes how she felt when approached by the stranger-in-town, a boy named Finn. To quote from the book:
I turned around. Finn was floating toward me. Truly, I think he floated on the air. My feet stuck to the ground and my mouth froze in an O.
"Hey, tree girl, wait up."
Wait up? I couldn't have moved even if I'd wanted to. Look at that nice hair, I thought stupidly. Look at those long legs. Look at that mouth---
When he reached me, he said, "I've got a question for you."
I managed to form a few words. "For me?"
These few lines manage to capture perfectly the way it feels when a girl has her first (or maybe not first...) crush. I remember feeling just that way-- brainless. Focused only on random attractive features of the boy I liked. Sigh... Plus, I love anything to do with Ireland. One day I want to go there and search for some of my roots.
I highly recommend this great book. It's a sweet (but not too sweet) story with deeper layered elements including love, life, death and forgiveness. I might have to buy this one...