Sunday, March 02, 2014

Beat the Turtle Drum

by Constance C. Greene

O dance along the silver sand,
And beat the turtle drum,
That youth may last for ever
And sorrow never come.

--Ian Serraillier
It is obvious what is to come in this achingly honest novel for young readers. Kate and Joss are sisters, just two years apart. Since she is the aspiring writer, Kate tells the story of the best and last birthday week for her younger sister, which includes the rental of a horse.

Most of the novel concerns itself with Joss and her love of life, especially when life includes horses. It also concerns itself with sisterly love.

When Joss unexpectedly dies, the true artistry of the author is revealed. Kate’s reaction to Joss’s death is so real and so honest. Kate feels her own pain, but is also faced with witnessing her parents’ pain. Green accurately depicts the pain felt by a surviving sibling, as well as the reality of such a loss to the entire family.

Warning: do not read this in public. I cried when I read it.

Despite its age, I think it is recommended reading for young readers, even today. The author just gets it. I would especially recommend this novel to those who have lost a sibling.


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