Friday, February 19, 2016

Fiction Friday (40)

As I mentioned in the last Fiction Friday, I'm trying to read more this year than last year. After finishing the last of Peculiar Children novels, I picked up this short middle grade novel and read it almost entirely in one sitting, something I hadn't done is quite some time. It was certainly the proper way to enjoy this book, allowing each delicate moment to build on the next. I really enjoyed the subtle sci-fi nature of the story. Those are always the best kind of sci-fi, ones that are more about being human than about other words. Enjoy.

The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh

A deceptively simple book that packs its thin pages with equal parts hope and worry. The story follows a family on last ditch journey away from a dying Earth. With only enough fuel to reach the unknown distant planet designated for them by richer, more connected refugees that left Earth long before, the passengers on the old ship are allowed only the bare minimum of supplies and only one personal item, along with a book. When they arrive, they have no idea whether the planet will support them or not. It had only be briefly scouted to determine there was a high likelihood that it could support human life.

The trip takes several years, in which time the main character Pattie, grows from a small child into an inquisitive girl. Upon arriving, there is a moment before the passengers will find out if the planet is livable, whether there is water, if their seeds will grow, and are there any potential dangers. Like every moment in this novel, it handled excellently. Will a careful use of words, Jill Paton Walsh is able to capture all the tension without ever embellishing or resorting to melodrama.

Life on this new planet is seen through Pattie's eyes, and so while the difficulties are visible, what the reader truly feels is the sense of discovery that the strange world exhibits. It is the gift of a child to see joy even in the midst of struggle.

A surprise twist at the end only works to strengthen this book and make it even more endearing than it already had been.

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