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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
From award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan comes another installment in the heartwarming saga that began with Sarah, Plain and Tall. This time out the story is told through the eyes of young Caleb, who is handed the duty of writing in the family journal when older sister Anna moves to town. At first Caleb fears he will have nothing of interest to write about, but then a mysterious man named John shows up on the farm, throwing the Witting family dynamic completely out of kilter.
The mystery man turns out to be Jacob's father, who was thought to be dead. Caleb and his younger sister Cassie are delighted to discover that they have a grandfather, and Sarah happily welcomes him into the household, as well. But their joy is tempered by Jacob's obvious anger with the old man, an anger that stems from the fact that John walked out the door when Jacob was a lad, never to return. Still reeling from the emotional pain of that abandonment, Jacob can't forgive his father for never writing so much as one letter of explanation.
Grandfather offers nothing in the way of apologies or explanations, and Caleb soon discovers that the old man is hiding a dark secret. Sarah despairs over Jacob's refusal to forgive, worrying that the two men are running out of time. For it is clear to anyone who cares to notice that Grandfather isn't in the best of health. It will take a startling revelation, a young boy's determination, and a terrible tragedy before the Witting household can finally begin to heal. MacLachlan sets her story amid the bitter, unforgiving cold of a prairie winter, letting it serve as a metaphor for the equally frigid corners of Jacob's heart. But just as the winter's chill must eventually give way to the sun's heat, so must Jacob's heart begin to thaw beneath the warming rays of his family's love. (Beth Amos)