Thursday, October 31, 2013
The Boy on the Porch, by Sharon Creech
Unable to speak, Jacob soon shows artistic and musical talent, romps with the dog, rides the cow, and plays harmonica for the goats. John and Marta nervously assure each other that someone will be back for him, while at the same time they ease their way into parenthood and soon realize they will be crushed if anyone does return for him. Mistrusting the local sheriff but trying to do the right thing, John eventually works up his courage to visit the lawman's office and report that they have the boy. Though John is accused of having snatched him, this visit bring the sheriff out to their small farm, and when he sees that the boy is well cared for, he allows him to stay. John and Marta help Jacob make a friend, take him on walks, take him apple picking, and when they discover the abandoned trailer Jacob lived in, they consider selling all and moving away where no one will know them. And then comes the day the old car drives into their yard. Jacob's father is back. What happens next opens an entirely new world both for John and Marta, and for many others as well.
If I had to sum up the central point, I'd say it's that you can never be sure what can drop into your life, at any moment, even if you think you know exactly how it'll unfold, and even if you think it's sleepy and unnoted. You can never know for sure what small event, that you didn't ask for, might lead to a completely different path. And you can never know for sure that this won't be the day that love will knock you completely off your feet.
This novel alternates between two adult POVs -- John's and Marta's, and, though I'm very taken with it, it's the kind of book that makes you wonder if only a big name could get it published. The Boy on the Porch can appeal to all ages, although kids who want more action or don't care about adult POVs might find little to hold them. For others, the chance to gain insight into parents, or explore a feeling of being peers with adults due to ID-ing with the POVs, might be welcome.