The Great Unexpected

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The Great Unexpected
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 04, 2012
ISBN
0061892327
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I had big thoughts to match the big wind. I wondered if we find the people we need when we need them. I wondered if we attract our future by some sort of invisible force, or if we are drawn to it by a similar force. I felt I was turning a corner and that change was afoot.

In the little town of Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: one Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and her best friend, Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens. For she knows all the peculiar people in town—like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins and Mr. Farley. But then, one day, a boy drops out of a tree. The strangely charming Finn boy. Then the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking all kinds of questions. Curious surprises are revealed—three locked trunks, a pair of rooks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi and Lizzie find themselves zooming toward a future neither could ever have imagined. Meanwhile, on a grand estate across the ocean, an old lady whose heart has been deceived concocts a plan. . . .

As two very different worlds are woven together, Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech celebrates the gossamer thread that connects us all, and the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Quite the Middle Grade Treat
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
When I picked up The Great Unexpected, I certainly did not know what to expect. After just a few pages, however, I knew that I would love Naomi and her best friend, Lizzie, who enters into the scene with a silly "lar dee dar" warbly sing-song voice that left me completely charmed and giggling to myself--as I did in nearly every scene with Lizzie. The cast of characters in this short but enchanting story is a snapshot of what it is like to live in a small and poverty-ridden town. The abnormal things about Blackbird Tree are the very things that make it normal to these two tweens, and what make this story a unique, fun, and thoughtful read for just about any girl.

Right away we are introduced to a magical character, Finn, a sort of Peter-Pan-esque boy that literally drops into Naomi's life and is almost a catalyst to her beginning to experience the familiar emotions of vanity and jealousy in an entirely new way as she comes of age. Though he remained mysterious throughout the rest of the book, and I wished to know more about where he came from and what his purpose was--it became clear by the end of the book that he did, in fact, have a reason for being.

The series of events that happen over the course of this story were at times tragic, at times comical, and many times, both. I appreciated the statement it made about friendship and family, and the way it serves as a starting-off point for contemplating hope and destiny and the things that bring friends together and can bind them to one another for a lifetime. An endearing read.
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The Great Unexpected
(Updated: October 20, 2012)
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
The town of Blackbird Tree has more than its fair share of orphans and old people. Naomi lives with Nula and Joe, her mother having passed away shortly after her birth, and her father dying of an infection after a dog attack that also disfigured Naomi's arm. Her friend Lizzie lives with a couple she hopes will adopt her. The two makes friends with Finn, an unusual boy who also has a mysterious past. While the children in Blackbird Tree are hanging out, helping the strange and elderly (Crazy Cora, Witch Wiggins, etc.), an older woman in Ireland is planning revenge. She sends her solicitor to spy on the residents of Blackbird Tree and report things back to her. This lady is somehow connected to Nula, and when Joe passes away, the solicitor has Nula, Naomi and Lizzie all come to Ireland, where all of the secrets of the past are revealed and come together for everyone's benefit.

Good Points
Creech has a writing style that incorporates all of the elements of stories that language arts teachers love. There's foreshadowing, character development, conflict, and good use of all sorts of figurative language, as well as symbolism. While some of the mysteries I had figured out early on, there were some surprises at the end.
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