How could I not pick The Barn by Avi for the Rural Setting box for Hot Reads Bingo?
The Barn by Avi is our One Town, One Title selection for 2017. It is the story of a boy who is summoned to return home from school in 1855 when his father suffers from a seizure or stroke. The home farm is not the place that Ben seems to fit in well. He is small and book smart. His older brother and sister are bigger and better suited to the harsh conditions and hard work of pioneer farming.
Ben realizes early on that instead of working the fields he should care for his father who is basically in a vegetative state. The father cannot move on his own, except for small hand twitches and moving his eyes. Ben believes that the only thing that can save his dad is for the three siblings to build the barn his father was planning before his attack. Will it be enough for him to live for?
The characters in this short book all come to life, especially the children’s mother and father. They are both absent characters that live on in their children’s memories. The mother died in the not-too-distant past and the father’s stroke has left him absent as well. The father was a dreamer and ready to joke with his children, especially Ben. The mother, on the other hand, was much more a grounded realist who appeared to be disillusioned by her marriage. Their relationship fascinated me, probably most of all because it was only seen second hand.
I look forward to hearing what everyone else in Pine Island and the surrounding area thinks of this book. Please either stop by the library and share your thoughts on it, or come to our book club discussion on February 8 at Better Brew Coffeehouse at 6pm.