Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Shari Green. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Our house on Pemberton Street with the red front door wildflower garden out back window seat just right for reading has a For Sale sign jammed in the front lawn. It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

Premise/plot: Macy McMillan is the heroine of Shari Green's new free verse novel for middle grade readers. What we know about the heroine: a) she hates the fact her mom is getting married; it's always been just the two of them; b) she is frustrated by her school assignment of doing a family tree; c) she's having trouble with her best friend, Olivia, understanding her frustration; d) she LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to read; e) she loves to garden as well; e) she is also deaf. The heroine's deafness might seem like it should be the most important thing about Macy--but it isn't. In fact, for better or worse, I think you could take away her deafness from the plot altogether and have the exact same story.

Early in the novel, Macy's mom suggests that she help her neighbor, Iris, pack up her books. (Her neighbor also has a 'for sale' sign in the yard. Iris will be going into a nursing home.) Macy is hesitant at first. She doesn't know Iris, and all of a sudden, Macy will be going over to her house nearly every day helping her pack. Iris is old, and Macy thinks every "old" person IS cranky. What Macy learns is that Iris is a) named after a rainbow goddess, a messenger of the gods; b) loves, loves, loves to read; c) loves, loves, loves to bake; d) is a GREAT storyteller; e) a true kindred spirit.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I really liked Macy. But I loved, loved, loved Iris. Together these two make for a GREAT read. I also enjoyed the other characters in the book. (Her best friend, Olivia, her mother, her step-father-to-be, Alan, her step-sisters-to-be, Kaitlin and Bethany.) Macy is a flawed heroine--my favorite kind. So in terms of characterization, this one was wonderful.

The language--the writing--was great. Did it need to be free verse? Maybe, maybe not. But if it was written in prose, I would say the writing was lyrical and poetic in places.

Favorite quotes:
If you love something
you should love it extravagantly (46)
Chocolate chip cookies say
"You'll be okay."
Oatmeal cookies say
"You're strong can do this."
Peanut butter cookies send joy
and laughter.
Sugar and spice cookies whisper
"You are loved, you belong."
It's the most important message
of all. (58)
I make a point of connecting with people
who come into my life
because even if only for a moment
their story connects with mine.
That should mean something...
even if there's no chapter in a cafe next door. (67)
I learned much from Anne--
that the hard things in life
sometimes turn out to be the very things
that equip us for what comes next...
that there's nothing so precious
as a kindred spirit
and a place to call home...
that we need one another...
that words are magical...
and that it's possible--more than possible--
to survive the depths of despair
and come out strong. (86)
My gaze lands
on the well-loved book
she gave me
reminding me
of the depths of despair
and I realize
Iris hasn't only been sharing books.
She's been sharing stories.
It seems like a good time
to tell her a story
of my own. (92)
When you're in the midst of a good story
it's hard to remember
there are more wonderful tales to be told. (104)
Why do we think
we can know anything about a person
by how they look
what they can do
what life is like for them now?
Because it turns out
we really can't.
The only way to know that stuff
is if someone
tells you the story. (152)
I can whip through chapter after chapter
of a good book
but starting a new chapter
of my own story
is not
my specialty. (200)
Turns out
there are as many stories
in the bits and bobs
as there are in the books
but those ones...those are the kind of stories
that need to be shared
while drinking lemonade
and eating sugar & spice cookies
baked by a rainbow goddess
the kind of stories that start from a seed
a scrap
a spark of memory
and then
when you begin to tell them
they burst into bloom
like a field of wildflowers
on the first hot day
of summer.
No wonder Iris doesn't want
to lose them.
No wonder she hangs on
to books, clippings, memories.
They're stories
all of them.
Someday maybe
I'll have to tell them for her
and someday maybe
I'll have to tell them to her
--and I will
because stories
are worth saving
hanging on to
and giving away. (222-3)
A rainbow goddess
needs to be able
to send messages. (225)
Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting
--in need of a message
you can send. (226)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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