I just finished reading Sharon Creech’s The Great Unexpected, and while I didn’t realize it was partly about Ireland (nor did I anticipate just how long it would take me to finish it, thanks to my current stage in life), it was. And I finished it less than a week before St. Patrick’s Day. Talk about timing! (Much better timing than El Deafo, which I finished only a day or two before my baby went into the hospital with RSV, spiked a fever, and needed a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. Did I mention that the main character in El Deafo loses most of her hearing because she had meningitis as a young child?)
Anyway. I quite enjoyed The Great Unexpected, although it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be at first. The dialogue in the opening scene was so entertaining that I started expecting more of a poignant but humorous friends story; as the book progressed, however, it became obvious that it was more poignant than humorous–and more of an ensemble story than anything else. I wasn’t disappointed, mind you, but my perception of the story certainly changed. (I possibly feel that my initial expectation might have more appeal for young readers, but I can’t guarantee that, given how very old I’m feeling at the moment!) At the end of it, I was briefly reminded of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Peach Keeper; the two books share a theme of ‘what women shouldn’t let come between them.’ That isn’t all that the book is about, however…it also does an excellent job of contrasting how people are publicly perceived with who they really are.
Which all sounds rather philosophical, doesn’t it? And yet The Great Unexpected is really a fairy tale, about more than one pair of friends (and sisters!), at least two boys named Finn, and several strange twists of fate. The ending is a version of every young girl’s dream come true–mine included!–and the middle involves an interesting mix of characters, very few of whom register on the normal-to-boring end of the spectrum. It’s an enjoyable journey with a satisfying ending; the plot meanders slightly, but it does tie together in a lovely way at the end. Grab this one and read it in honor of St. Paddy’s Day!