"Something important was about to happen.."
Doris Gates' Blue Willow is a middle school level book about Janey and her small migrant family and their sufferings and survivals through a tough existence after the Texas drought of the 1930's era Depression moving from job to job.
The story is inspiring for all ages, with inspiration from seeing Janey grow though her experiences with friendship, love, family devotion, courage and sacrifice. Janey didn't think she had courage, we see that she did and the ability to sacrifice for love. Her father about their way of life; "Perhaps, I'm wrong but I've got a hunch that it takes just about as much courage to live like that (how they do) without losing your grip on things as ever it took to buckle on armor and go out to fight some fellow who had a grudge against you."
Janey didn't have siblings or a pet, she did have a very special possession, a treasured Willow plate, almost sacred to her; one very special possession of her past life.
Reading was important to her father and The Bible was her schoolbook. She clung to Scripture for security: "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." The verse that gave her comfort knowing her father could always provide for them.
Sad, hard times but laced with hope from the enduring American spirit. You can't help but hope along with Janey. I cry every time I read it.
I also find interesting the small story within the story: the legend of the Blue Willow plate. This is Janey's version she told her new friend, Lupe:
"Well, this rich old man had promised another rich man to let him marry the beautiful daughter. But the daughter was already in love with a poor man who was very handsome. And when the father found out, he shut his daughter up in a tower. See, here it is in the picture. But the handsome man stole her away, and they ran across the bridge toward the island and there they lived for quite a while. But the father found out about it and went to the island to kill them."
..Janey takes a dramatic pause for effect..
"he went to the island to kill them....but just as he got to their house, something changed the lovers into two white birds . And so they escaped and lived happily ever after.".....
"It was a miracle," Lupe announced awesomely.
Romantic fiction created by the china industry to sell plates. Still, who wouldn't love a plate all the more because of the romantic story depicted? Janey had a bigger reason to love her plate, but I've spoiled enough.