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02 September 2011 @ 12:42 pm
Miracles on Maple Hill  
Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen, is a book that is as timely now as it was in 1956. Often beloved old books from our childhoods can seem dated but the theme of this book applies to a whole new generation of families affected by war. As I re-read it I am kind of amazed at how accurately PTSD and the resulting depression that affects the father of the story is portrayed. We are learning more about such things all the time but it is clear that Marly's dad has the classic symptoms. Fixing up Grandma's house out in the country is meant to give Dale time to recover his physical and emotional strength after a particularly hard time in WWII, including being a prisoner of war. They arrive during the maple season and Marly learns to expect miracles in this beautiful countryside home filled with her mother's memories of visiting her grandmother. The book seems timeless because the house itself is rustic, not having been inhabited for awhile, and filled with old-fashioned appliances meant for an earlier time even when it was published. One doesn't need cell phones to help fix up an old house or explore the country around it or to enjoy the fresh product of the sugar camp. Nor does the country home seem to be the place for nintendo, xbox or playstation.

I can imagine that children who are wondering what is wrong with their mom or dad when they finally come home from Iraq or Afghanistan would love this Newbery award winner. Nature and solitude can be very healing and it wouldn't surprise me if more than one veteran has taken advantage of such a setting.

ETA: I noticed one reviewer complained about sexism. Well yes gender roles are what one would expect of that era but I see that as a great opportunity to talk about why things are different now. :) There is no malicious sexism.