Tess lives in Bethsaida, a small fishing island off the coast of Maine. It’s so small that they only have a one-room school, where her mother is the teacher. And because lobstering is no longer what it used to be, people keep moving off, and the state of Maine is threatening to close the school, which means Tess and her family would have to move.
That is, until Reverend Beal comes up with the idea to take on foster children. If they add as many children as those that have moved out, maybe they could save the school. Tess’ family is one of those who take on a foster child, a 13-year-old boy named Aaron. She hopes, and wishes, that this will be exactly what her family and the island (and maybe even Aaron) needs. But then, sometimes, everything you wish for doesn’t always turn out the way you’ve planned.
It’s a quiet book, one in which the characters and setting are at the forefront and shine like they should. Cynthia Lord’s writing captures the quiet homeyness of island living — both the positive and the negative; there are some wonderfully nosy characters. She also captures the idea of finding a place; Aaron is a wonderfully complex character, someone who wants and needs a home, but is reluctant, because of his past, to dive in headfirst and give everything over to Tess and her family. It’s a slow process, one with bumps and hiccups, but because you care about the characters, you want it to succeed.
And with some luck, it will.