Shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize
In a small prairie town like Argue, Saskatchewan, everyone knows everybody else’s business. Everyone knows that the Loney family has been barely hanging on -- the father, George, reduced to drink and despair since the loss of his farm and the death of his wife, Margaret. That the four Loney children do not get along with George’s second wife, the pious, bitter Effie. Then George dies in a drunken stupor -- locked out, it seems, by Effie to freeze to death on his own doorstep. Effie takes off with a traveling Bible salesman, and it looks as though the children are done for. Who’s to save them when everyone is coping with their own problems -- the lingering depression and the loss of the town’s young men to the Second World War.
Yet somehow the children find a way, under the watchful eye of their ghostly parents and through the small kindnesses of a few neighbors, but mostly by dint of their own determination and ingenuity.
This is an extremely powerful novel about children at risk because of adult hypocrisy, indifference, self-interest and outright immorality, all cloaked in a self-righteous exterior. In the end they redeem their own lives by drawing good people to them and by rising to the occasion themselves. And when they at last are able to leave Argue, they do so together, as a family looking ahead to a future of promise and hope.close this panel
...it feels true...when the Loney children make their way out of the prairie town...their measure of hope is well earned and welcome.
...riveting...a huge accomplishment.
Full of rich, believable characters, this emotionally taut story offers no simple solutions, only a window of hope.
Porter's free-form poetry is beautifully spare.
Complex, nuanced and as substantial as any adult novel...Highly recommended.
... the story and images flow vividly and easily off the page.
...a compelling tale of faith and courage in the face of suffering and evil...The writing is excellent, with characters and lessons that are likely to stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
True to its genre, the novel awards happy endings all around, but the Loneys' journey from abandonment and crushing poverty into a promising future is fairly won.
What a powerful and memorable free verse novel this is!
Girls who like stories about families, and who are strong readers would probably enjoy this book.
Rich in character, plot and setting detail, I'll Be Watching definitely merits more than one reading.