The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

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The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Beautiful fable about connections between people and between past and present, and about the universality of the human condition. Lyrical prose and a dollop of surrealism combined with a healthy measure of reality. We loved it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1849390924

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Naomi lives with her foster parents, Nula and Joe. She is afraid of dogs - one of her arms is useless after the dog attack that killed her father when she was just a baby. Nula and Joe aren't demonstrative, but Nula knows deep in her soul that she is loved and wanted. Best friend Lizzie is a perfect foil for Naomi. She's garrulous while Naomi is introspective. Outgoing while Naomi is reserved. She's openhearted while Naomi is cautious. Their friendship is the whole made by two very disparate halves. And then, one day, a boy falls out of a tree. Finn is nothing like anyone either girl has met before. And before she knows it, Naomi is beginning to question her friendship with Lizzie.

Across the ocean from America, in Ireland, Sybil and her companion Pilpenny are enjoying murders and planning revenge. What is going on? Where did Finn come from? And how are all these people linked?

The Great Unexpected is all about connections. Connections between people and between past and present. Connections between feelings and relationships. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Naomi is taking her place in the web of life and she finds that sometimes it's scary and sometimes it's toothgrindingly frustrating. But sometimes it's beautiful and warm and wonderful. Her story is filled with every human emotion - love, hope, joy, grief, anger, fear, jealousy - and readers can experience them right along with her. These realistic emotions and the situations giving rise to them pair with a fable narrative full of delightful surrealism. It's an intoxicating mix.

It's written in haunting, lyrical prose, as you'd expect from Creech. She has the soul of a poet as you'll know if you've read Hate That Cat. Every single sentence in this lovely story is a work of art. You don't just read them: you taste them, you feel them, you smell them, you wonder about them.

There will be lots to talk about after reading The Great Unexpected. Which bits are real and which are fantasy? Are we destined to repeat ourselves in every generation? Is there a Finn boy to test every girlish friendship? Did our parents and grandparents really feel exactly the same emotions as we are feeling now?

This little book is like a Tardis - much more inside than you'd dream possible for such a slim little volume. Recommended.

We also have a review of Creech's The Castle Corona.

You might also enjoy Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne. It features a naive central character trying to understand adult issues and deal with painful truths but has the most wonderful dollops of surrealism and optimism.

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Buy The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech at


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