The Book Reviews – Website

July 7, 2008



Author: Patricia MacLachlan

Page Length: 83

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Journey and his sister Cat live with their grandparents because their father has left them and their mother has abandoned them. The siblings do hear from their mother periodically but only in the form of envelopes with money. Journey is eleven years old and begins to search for answers to his mother’s disappearance. His grandparents however are hesitant to provide any clues. In the meantime, Journey’s grandfather, a lover of photography, uses his camera as a means to showcase life and the hidden meanings behind it. He is a man of few words and lets his photographs do the talking.

One day, Journey discovers a box of old photographs of he and his mother that are torn up. Journey is told that his mother was the one who tore up the pictures. When his mother unexpectedly calls and is confronted by Journey on this discovery, she states that “they were only pictures”. Journey’s grandfather tries to tell his grandson that his mother never appreciated anything that showcased the past (photographs) and always felt compelled to move forward on new journeys – a woman always on the move.

Later in the story, Cat tells Journey that the reason why their grandfather takes so many photographs is that he wants to give back everything their mother took away from them or denied them – memories of family life.

Towards the end of the story, Journey realizes that after searching through so many pictures of his past, his grandfather was actually the one who took care of him when he was young. His grandparents are his family. They are his love. They are his answers.

REVIEW: This story starts off with a bang! It is fast-paced. However, I was disappointed in that I did not find out what happened to the mother. Perhaps that was intended – leaving the reader to answer the questions for themselves. I believe students who enjoy photography would be interested in this book on the surface level, however I feel the story is shrouded in too much mystery for most students.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: similes (pages 14 & 26), internal dialogue (page 31), symbolism (mama tearing up pictures)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: issue of parental abandonment

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: see first website below

RELATED WEBSITES: (website about parental abandonment in TV, movies, and other media) (discussion questions & simple activity) (questions & activities divided by chapter)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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