Sunday, February 5, 2012

Water Street by Patricia Reilly Giff

Bird Mallon's mother is a healer who walks the neighborhood in 1880's Brooklyn helping any in need.  Bird wants to be a healer like her mom, until one day she witnesses a truly horrific wound. She feels she can never experience that again, and is left without a direction in life.  Her friend, Thomas, patiently supports her as she gradually heals from the experience.  At the same time, Thomas, who never knew his mother, and cares for a drunken father, is basking in the warmth of being accepted into Bird's family circle.  There is a reason why Patricia Reilly Giff is a two time Newbery Honor winner.  Her writing is amazing.  I think I could write contemporary fiction, and maybe fantasy, but I wonder how people write historical fiction in such a way to totally transport the reader into another time and place.  That is what happened while I read Water Street.  I felt like I somehow slipped into the lives of this family living in the Irish ghetto of New York in the 1880's.  Giff must totally love historical research.  How else could she reproduce it so vividly.  In reality, there wasn't that much to the plot of the story.  There wasn't any big mystery or action sequence.  All the drama is human drama, but is was completely satisfying.  I was more than half way through the book before I realized the connection between this book and Giff's Newbery honor, Nori Ryan's Song. Nori is the mother in this book.  I actually liked this one more than that one.  That one was so heavy.  This one had heavy moments, but was a little lighter overall. (164 p.)

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