Saturday, March 26, 2016
Book Review: The Penny Whistle - B.J. Hoff
This stupid little book made me cry.
It didn't just make me cry a nice little tear gently sliding down my face. It made me sob.
I'm blaming menopause.
Because this little story (and it is a very small book, readable in a sitting), about a teacher and one of his young students in the depressing little coal mining town of Skingle Creek can't possibly be that touching.
Young Jonathon Stuart is loved by all his students but the combination of someone stealing his much loved flute and his ongoing heart problems has taken away his music and his desire to go on. He can feel death right around the corner. Music and his gift for playing it, especially his flute had brought joy to him and allowed him to share it with others. It gave him strength when he was tired. Now it was gone.
Young Maggie is smart and perceptive and frightened by what she is seeing. So she gathers the other students around to devise a plan to give Mister Stuart his music back. But more pressing needs arise and the plan goes awry.
Interspersed with this is the gnawing poverty that this town suffers from. Before the time of safety standards and social assistance, the men descend into the coal mines before dawn and come up after sunset, never seeing the light, being paid meagerly, and having no place to shop but the coal owners store. It's back breaking, spirit stealing, health depriving, dangerous, poverty living and there is little room for anything else.
But the spirit of Maggie and her best friend Summer, manage to overcome this and are able to find meaning in such a mean existence, even when tragedy strikes, stealing from Maggie much of her joy. Yet in spite of her grief, she is still able to find a way to give to Mister Stuart something he had lost, and he in turn was again able to inspire his students.
This is really a lovely inspirational book. Some might call it sappy and sentimental, but if it is, it's done well.
B.J. Hoff is a well known Christian writer and has many books to her credit.