Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

“The world turns and the world spins, the tide runs in and the tide runs out, and there is nothing in the world more beautiful and more wonderful in all its evolved forms than two souls who look at each other straight on. And there is nothing more woeful and soul-saddening than when they are parted. Turner knew that everything in the world rejoices in the touch, and everything in the world laments in the losing.”
Gary D. Schmidt, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, 215-216.

This is the gist of a book I recently finished, alleged to be a children’s book, but moving to any moveable soul however old. It’s about a boy, Turner Buckminster, the son of a preacher, who moves to cold, hard Maine, and has his life changed in the meeting of a young black girl, Lizzie Bright. His life is transformed in the encounter with unchristian Christians who want to remove Lizzie and “her kind” from the island community in which they live, and who in fact did so (both in the novel and in fact, in 1912). His life is transformed by looking straight into the eye of a whale, and into the eyes of a father who in his last moment finally takes a stand for what is right. And he is transformed by the loss of all that is dear to him, or nearly all. There are important things he does not lose, an understanding parent, an enemy-turned-friend. This is a book that, though profoundly sad in a number of ways, is also hopeful, and definitely worth reading and discussing.

Gary D. Schmidt is also the author of The Wednesday Wars, which, though not quite as sad, moved me deeply as well.

Neerlandia Librarians…take note!


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