Journey, Patricia MacLachlan

Not really a synopsis; I can’t give a synopsis of this book, as it wasn’t really plot driven.
This book  is about a child named Journey coming to terms with his mother leaving him and his sister Cat. His grandparents, who he lives with, are also coming to terms with the fact that their daughter is too restless to be with her kids. The grandparents and the kids cope in different ways according to their personality. Grandmother and Cat work through their pain. (The garden has never been bigger). Journey is very introspective. Grandfather takes pictures.  He says you can see things more clearly through the lens. He tells Journey pictures, and life, aren’t always perfect, but things can be good enough.

Bookworm’s Commentary
This was another Children’s Lit book and OMG. It’s heartbreaking, beautiful, and amazing. We do lit logs (I promise, you’ll find out about it later) and I filled 3 pages with beautiful quotes from this book that gave me chills. My buddy Tony, the one reading the book with me, couldn’t put it down yesterday (I was “not putting down” like, two other books that I alternated between along with Journey— yes, I know I’m sick) and let me know a lot of the quotes I loved were circular themes in the book.

For example, Journey says that his mother named him Journey “as if to wish her restlessness on me.”  When a cat sneaks into Journey’s room, we’re told that the family rule is if you name it, you take care of it. *Tear!* I loved how Journey insisted he needed the cat, which they name Bloom. Bloom is pretty symbolic simply because she shows up when Journey needs something to love, and she knows how to be a mom automatically when she pops out kitties.

Photographs are a major theme in this book. Grandpa is creating a past for Journey through the photos he makes. Journey learns how to cope by taking photos too. Grandfather says you can see things more clearly in photos, that they capture a moment, good or bad. His friend Cooper’s mom points out a photo on her mantel and says the truth is sometimes BEHIND the photo– her brother was poking her when the picture was taken.

Journey’s an angry kid, and he’s in an all-too-familiar situation. My prof  got a letter years and years ago about how sad this book made a kid feel because he WAS Journey. She still questions whether continuing to teach that book to that class was the right thing. Heartbreaking stuff, but beautiful. No, the mom doesn’t magically show up in the end. Journey can’t really come to terms with the fact that Bloom is a better mother than his own, and that “once I was loved” (oooo fighting tears) but he knows his grandparents love him. It’s not perfect, but… it’s good enough.

Class Stuff
Grades: 4-7
… did I mention my kiddie lit teacher taught fourth grade for forever? Most of the books I read for this class start at the fourth grade level as a result.
Grade: A Yeah, it’s a tear-jerker, but it’s beautifully written. 3 pages of good quotes. ‘Nuff said.

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4 Comments

Filed under Children's Literature Class, Middle school (6-8), Realistic, Upper elementary

4 responses to “Journey, Patricia MacLachlan

  1. I remember this one. I think our teacher read it to us in 4th grade. I remember thinking how cool Journey’s name was. Ah, this takes me back.

  2. I read this book before in 6th grade and I love it I still know what it is about.:)

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