At the beginning of the summer, when Lucas and Lindy move into the old cabin next door, it is instant crush for Franny. It seems like Lucas might feel the same, but Sidda, Frannys older sister, is trying to attract Lucas attention. Things go smoothly for a little while, Franny nursing wounded animals back to health and Lucas working at the local Harlands Market. But unnerving things begin to happen. A black car arrives at the Dunns cabin and neither Lucas nor Lindy are happy about it. Soon after, $3,000 is missing from Harlands. The once happy Dunns are now sad and distant. The Parkers offers of assistance go unaccepted by Lucas and Lindy.
McKinnon has such a beautiful way with words. The way she describes Oklahoma farm town life and its inhabitants, the countryside, the sadness when a farm burns down touch the reader. McKinnons characters, such as gruff Grandma Rae and her posse of quilters, are colorful to say the least. Frannys caring parents and the Dunns are real. Readers will immediately like Franny and Lucas and Ben, Frannys younger brother. Theyll love rural Oklahoma, both the idealized version as well as the hard-life version.
Franny Parker is what every girl-next-door should be. I personally want to move into the Dunns cabin and befriend her. For those of you old enough to remember The Waltons, consider the Parkers modern-day Waltons, quiet caring, quaint sayings, family-oriented, full of hope. For those of you too young to remember The Waltons, just sit down and enjoy are marvelous book.
In the end, Lucas was right about plentiful seasons. Although that summer was one of the hardest, it was really the beginning. In me it added to the rings of my tree, the hope and the sadness, thbe trying and the giving up, and trying all over again. It filled me up, spilling into my branches, unfurling my leaves. My limbs tingled with the energy of it. And I grew.
Like I said with The Properties of Water, Franny Parker might also be one of my 10 best for 2011 (even though it was written in 2009).