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*The Glory Wind* by Valerie Sherrard - middle grades nonfiction book review
The Glory Wind
by Valerie Sherrard
Grades 5-9 192 pages Fitzhenry & Whiteside February 2011 Paperback    

ďIt was 1946 and a scorching July afternoon. I sometimes wish I knew the exact date, but maybe itís best that I donít. Maybe being whittled down to a single day would make it too narrow and small. Some events need more breathing room than others. This was one of them.Ē (p. 7)
Living on a farm in remote Junction, Manitoba, eleven-year-old Luke must entertain himself Ė particularly in the summer when his friends are far away. But then Gracie and her mother, Raedine, rent the house next door. Soon Gracie is spending a lot of time with Luke while her mother is working in the local hotel, and they develop a strong friendship.

When school begins, Gracie understands that she canít rely on Luke, who is now in grade seven. At first, she is accepted by the other girls in grade six. Then, the gossip begins. Is it true that Gracie has no father? Gracie becomes a pariah. No one will sit with her so she sits alone in a special desk provided by her teacher to make her feel special. When the teacher is forced to get rid of the desk by the parents, she resigns in protest.

As the shunning continues, Luke remains Gracieís friend despite the fact that she is excluded by all her classmates. When Gracie's mother falls in love with a local farmer, they plan to marry. Everything seems to be finally working out for the family. However, Luke argues with Gracie and pushes her away in frustration on her motherís wedding day, and she runs into the field.

A sudden violent tornado comes out of nowhere, and Gracie is suddenly gone. Was Luke to blame? Is this a punishment for her motherís choices in life? Did the glory wind take Gracie straight to heaven?

This novel will take your breath away with its strong characterization, poignant plotline, and wonderful descriptive passages. In some places, it is reminiscent of W. O. Mitchellís classic prairie novel, Who Has Seen the Wind; in others, it has echoes of Harper Leeís classic novel about manís inhumanity to man, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The action of the novel is juxtaposed with meteorological information about tornadoes. This narrative technique prepares readers for the climactic violence of the weather as well as the tragic emotions awakened by the despicable treatment of Grace. The novel radiates meaning as it deals with issues of acceptance, friendship and tolerance.

Valerie Sherrard is an award-winning author of many books for young readers. She lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick. As a parent, foster parent and executive director of a group home for adolescents, Sherrard has nurtured a keen understanding of the adolescent mentality and their motivations. The Glory Wind is a novel which readers will not soon forget:
ďIf I close my eyes and lie back and listen hard, sometimes I can almost hear her laughter rippling through the warm summer air.Ē (p. 222)

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