What the Wind Can Tell You

Sarah Marie A. Jette

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - PAIGE VAN DE WIN­KLE

Is­land­port Press (MAY) Soft­cover $14.95 (216pp) 978-1-944762-41-4

A heart­warm­ing, mag­i­cal mid­dle-grade novel, Sarah Marie A. Jette’s What the Wind Can Tell You tack­les tough is­sues with sen­si­tiv­ity.

Twelve-year-old Is­abelle wants to har­ness the power of wind for her sci­ence fair project. She en­lists the as­sis­tance of her brother, Ju­lian, who is se­verely epilep­tic and uses a wheel­chair. His silent smiles and thumbs-ups en­cour­age her re­source­ful ex­per­i­ments un­til a par­tic­u­larly bad seizure lim­its his re­sponses fur­ther.

When she en­ters his en­chant­ing world of Las Brisas, a place where Ju­lian can say and do what­ever he pleases, Is­abelle’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and be­lief in her brother grow stronger, as do do the wor­ries of her pro­tec­tive par­ents. This is a si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­al­is­tic, su­per­nat­u­ral, and touch­ing look at the dy­nam­ics of fam­i­lies and dis­abil­i­ties.

Ju­lian’s se­vere epilepsy and re­sult­ing phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties are dealt with mas­ter­fully. While at first the dream world of Las Brisas is a mag­i­cal place that Ju­lian and Is­abelle ex­plore to­gether with­out his us­ing a wheel­chair, by the end, re­al­ity be­comes just as mag­i­cal as Las Brisas. This is an im­por­tant point for the book to make: that wheel­chair-us­ing Ju­lian can still ex­pe­ri­ence many of the things that Las Brisas Ju­lian can.

Char­ac­ters, even mi­nor ones, are en­gag­ing, and their “spe­cial pow­ers” give di­men­sion and a light­hearted qual­ity to the sub­stan­tial plot.

Ev­ery as­pect of the novel is care­fully thought out, and it makes for a re­mark­able and en­joy­able read.

As­pects of Mex­i­can Amer­i­can cul­ture and literary tropes add depth and dis­tinc­tion in this novel. Prej­u­dice and racism are skill­fully wo­ven into the fabric of the story through Is­abelle’s grand­fa­ther, who also has hes­i­ta­tions about con­sid­er­ing Ju­lian more than an un­for­tu­nate and ab­nor­mal boy.

This thought­ful and lively novel will de­light mid­dle-grade ages and be­yond with its bal­ance of sen­sory prose and mean­ing­ful top­ics.

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