Sooner or later grief comes to every family. When it does, a moving and timely book called Road to Tater Hill by author Edith Hemmingway can certainly help bring the family through.
In Road to Tater Hill, eleven year old Annabel and her mother are on their annual summer visit to the grandparents’ home in the North Carolina moutains. But this year is different. This year Annabel is anxiously expecting a baby brother or sister. But the baby girl dies, and Annabel’s world is turned upside down. Her mother stops talking and refuses to eat; her grandparents tiptoe around the house and refuse to talk with Annabel about whats happening; and since Annabel’s father is in the Air Force and stationed in Germany, its just too expensive to talk with him on the telephone.
With no where to turn and no one to talk to, Annabel takes longer and longer walks – past the baby’s grave – and into the deep woods toward Tater Hill, where she finds a smooth rock about the size and weight of a little baby. That rock becomes Annabel’s rock baby, the baby that Annabel never even got to see, and serves to comfort her when the silence becomes too much for her.
This is a timely story about the effects of grief on a family. Ms. Hemmingway goes to the very core of Annabel’s grief, which is as real as the grief of the adults around her, but as invisible as she becomes. Hemmingway taps into the very mind of an eleven year old and takes us into her thoughts, feelings and actions as she is left to work out her grief on her own. The setting includes great descriptions of events and scenery.
The plot is a double plot of sorts, as a sad outsider named Eliza McGee, who has been away thirty years for murder, befriends Annabel and becomes part of the story. The weakest part of this story is that the family never speaks of Annabel’s grief, and this left me a little let down at the end. Yet I would definitely buy this book for a child, or recommend it as a guide to a child’s feelings during a time of grieving.
It is very strong on the feelings, thoughts, and disapointments children have with the adult world when we make decisions that exclude them.
I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review.