Friday, March 20, 2009

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

"We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence."

The abstract is hidden because it may contain spoilers. If you would like to read the full summary, simply use your cursor to highlight the next few lines and it will magically appear.

Abstract: After her father is sent to jail, eleven-year-old Groovy Robinson must decide if she can forgive the failings of someone she loves.

Publisher: Harper Collins; 277 pages


tessyohnka said...

The Year the Swallows Came Early is all about accepting people for who/what they are and while it has some nice moments and good prose, it just doesn't make a strong impact. I don't think it's Newbery material but it's a good read and it wouldn't hurt any of us to soak up some understanding and forgiveness.

Sally Apokedak said...

I loved this book! I'm not a librarian. Oops. I'm not a librarian. Am I allowed to comment?

Sally Apokedak said...

And in case you didn't get it the first two times: I'm not a librarian. heh heh

Sally Apokedak said...

OK, sorry about that. Now that I have more time, I've read the top banner here and I see that I am allowed to comment.

I'm so happy to see The Year the Swallows Came Early here.

I just recently read and fell in love with this book.

I can understand what the previous poster meant about the book not making an impact. It is a quiet book. But it made a huge impact on me. The more I thought about it, the more I loved it.

I loved the characters--Groovy, her mother, Frankie, Luis--I really knew these characters and cared about them. And I was amazed that Fitzmaurice gave not only her main character, but also her secondary characters, real problems and substantial growth.

The book is about accepting people for who they are, yes. It's also about finding out who the people are in the first place. "Expect the unexpected," the horoscope reads. And we find the characters in the book aren't what we first expect them to be. People are more than what we see on the surface. All of that came through as Groovy's story unfolded.


The mother looks neglectful but she's the one who loves best. The father looks good but he betrays Groovy. Marisol ends up being a friend, Frankie's mother didn't want to abandon him, she wanted to protect him. The homeless man, now discarded, was once respected by the world. These people were more than what the appeared to be.

So the author seems to be telling us to withhold judgment and to take a good look at the real person.

But there is more to the story than that. This book is about betrayal and hope. Groovy and Frankie are both betrayed by someone they love, but there is hope.

Because there are those swallows. The swallows are exactly what they seem to be and they come every year as promised. So there are some things in the universe that can be depended on.

This message of hope in the face of heavy disappointment, was dished up (ha ha) with wonderful prose, endearing and enduring characters (who could keep from loving Frankie with his orange Tums, and Groovy who cooks for her mother, and the mother who thinks the answers to all the world's woes are found in deep conditioning treatments and bottles of hair dye?), and a plot that holds your interest all they way through with no boring patches.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I read The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice as part of a blog tour. The book was a wonderful read. It held my interest from the beginning and had me crying by the end.

When I saw an article about it in our paper Sunday, I was so happy because this is a book readers will love and writers can learn from.

The writing is beautiful--not because it is flowery but because each metaphor enhances the story. The characters are engaging because they are real. They have fears and disappointments and hopes and depression and love and doubt. They make wrong choices and wrong assumptions, but along the way they learn and grow.

Yes, this may appear at first blush to be a quiet book, but it is powerful.

I'd rank it beside Savvy or maybe even a little ahead.

Stephanie said...

The Year the Swallows Came Early is probably the first book that I've read this year that I would even somewhat consider as a contender for the Newbery.

It was beautifully written and full of symbolism and true emotions. I loved that we got to see several characters and deeply get to know them. (Luis was far and away my favorite). I did however find it a little predictable. I enjoyed it very much, but it didn't have the POW I felt was needed for a Newbery winner. I didn't get the great book chills. That's what I'm hoping for in a Newbery winner. Great Book Chills.

Annie age:almost 13 said...

The Year the Swallows Came Early is a wonderful book. I love all of the different characters and their personalities. The plot was very interesting. It shows life's twists and turns and how to handle the ups and downs of families.

Kris said...

This was a pleasant read. I can't say I felt an urgency to finish it, but at the same time I looked forward to picking it up again. Sensory descriptions were often very beautiful, almost poetic. I really liked Eleanor's character, I hope there are more books about her...and I love chocolate covered strawberries!

Niki said...

I just finished reading Swallows, and found it easily enjoyable. I am a fan of unique and vivid characters, and while I loved most of the characters in this book, I wished they could have had a little more umph to them.
It's a great story, and I found it fascinating that it tackles a problem often tossed aside in children's literature: failing grown ups. Reading about a child who is dealing with the realization that her parents aren't perfect was new, and I imagine very relevant to many youngsters lives.
I liked Swallows, but I want something a little more explosive for a Newberry winner.

Anonymous said...

I found this book to be a very good read, but once again, not sure it is Newbery worthy. I really enjoyed Sally's comments, they made me think again about the book, and even make me want to read it again (if only there weren't so many others!). It is definitely on my short list, with great characters and even greater themes. I will definitely have to read it again before our discussion.

Teresa said...

Thanks for your comments, Sally, in defending this book. I look forward to comparing this book with the rest of this year's crop of contenders. This is a solid book with realistic portrayals of people told by a narrator who sounds like she would be the right age as she pieced things together, forming a larger world view.

It has a place in this year's discussion, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

I liked it but I thought it tended to drag a tiny bit. I also enjoyed Sallys comments.

While I liked it though I didn't think it was a Newbery winner. It will be interesting to watch though.

Jen said...

The Year the Swallows Came Early had a definite age-appropriate feel even though it tackled subjects like father in jail, mother gone for months because of green card issues. My only real issue with it is tangential, but I felt that slipping in the pastor character was a really didactic way of negating Groovy's mother's use of horoscope. I think the story would have been better without this minor character.

townie said...

This is such an honest book, so beautifully written, about forgiveness mostly. I would love to see it get recognition. My Mock Newbery discussion group (4-6 graders) loved it too.