May 15, 2017

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

Written by Shari Green
Pajama Press
240 pp.
Ages 8-12
May 2017

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.
(pg. 152)
Truer words were never spoken. And these from an 11-year-old Macy McMillan, a child who lost her hearing at age 4 and rarely enunciates words verbally but feels deeply, speaking volumes through signing and in her narration in Shari Green’s latest middle grade novel in verse.

Reluctantly, Macy is preparing for a new chapter in her life, leaving her garden and reading window seat at the pretty house she shares with Mom on Pemberton Street to the home of Mom’s fiancé Alan and six-year-old twin daughters Bethany and Kaitlin. Macy's elderly neighbour Ms. Iris Gillian is also moving, her to a seniors’ facility called Rosewood Manor, and Macy’s mom volunteers Macy for the task of packing Iris’ books and other bits and bobs. Though Macy is initially uninterested in helping, she needs someone with whom she can communicate, even if only by notes, since there are few persons available who can sign, after a falling out with her best friend Olivia and her mother far too busy with her wedding. With a school project based on students’ family trees, Macy is feeling even more untethered, never having known her father and uninterested in her future family.
…and I’m feeling more and more
like a dried-up
(pg. 26)
But Iris, named for the Goddess of the Rainbow, becomes the grounding that Macy needs to help her find her story. Though Iris, lover of books and baking cookies, is struggling with her memory and health, she is able to share with Macy, often through writing and with some signing, the story of her life, rife with adventures and tragedies, new chapters aplenty, some with endings more sad than happy, but always the right ending.

As Macy struggles with the upcoming wedding, even trying to stop it, and with completing her school project, she is beginning to see her world in terms of the connections she has and is making, all learned courtesy of the Rainbow Goddess next door.
Ever since Steven–the man in the bookshop–
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 not chapter in a café next door.
 (pg.  67) 
Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles (Pajama Press, 2016), has found her story as a writer of extraordinary middle grade novels in verse. Though I suspect she can write just about anything–middle grade, young adult, speculative fiction, non-free verse–her talent is definitely in writing insightfully poignant tales in the impassioned and crisp free verse style. As in her earlier book, Shari Green uses few words, but the right ones, to grow a story of such sensitivity for and awareness of her characters and readers that all will leave the story fulfilled. Her characters’ stories connect with us in ways we cannot put into words. I was astounded that a little girl could gain so much wisdom, courtesy of Iris and Shari Green of course, about life’s stories that she has a middle-aged woman such as myself in tears and heeding her advice.
Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting
–in need of a message
you can send.
(pg. 226)
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is a message from the writing goddesses that everyone’s life is just a story or series of stories that need to be told to be fully appreciated but no worries here because one of their scribes, Shari Green, has taken on that task capably and, like Iris, with wholehearted extravagance.

1 comment:

  1. A great review. This book sounds amazing, a good one to read with a young person in your life. Well done, Sheri!