Sunday, April 6, 2008

Gom on Windy Mountain by Grace Chetwin

Years ago I ran into a number of books by Grace Chetwin, and all that I remember is that I loved every one of them. I was wandering around the library last week, waiting for my 6 year old to select which Star Wars picture book he would bring home this week when I spied this book and grabbed it immediately. I had no recollection of the plot, but as usual I didn't let that stop me for a minute.

Plot:Stig the Woodcutter lives a humble life on Windy Mountain, working out a lonely existence by trading with the town below. One day a woman shows up at his door and in short order becomes his companion for life, bearing him many children, all whom resemble their father. Finally, a boy is born resembling not Stig, but his wife, and to add to the conflict the good woman disappears overnight. The family must now figure out how to survive without the incredibly talented matriarch, and Stig must raise this baby boy, Gom, on his own, who seems to exhibit some unusual abilities. Gom searches for acceptance and meaning in his life, while Stig learns to live with the absence of his one true companion.

The plot was slow, to be honest. Like many books written at the 4-6th grade level the concepts were simple and the characters straight forward, but the velocity of the story was just plain sluggish. I will be the first to admit that new releases these days are fantastic in their action levels (just wait until I get around to the Artemis Fowl series), but it is a literary culture shock to go back to the slow, linear plot-lines of yester-year.

Having said all of that, I have to say that once again I was impressed by the author. Even with a slow plot line, a setting that is so far removed from today's youth and totally uncomplicated main characters, I found myself enjoying the entire journey. The plain conflicts throughout the story were genuine and real. The predictable characters were somehow able to interact in a way that brought them to life. Chetwin accomplished that great challenge that is before every author, and got me to care about what happened to the characters. When sad things happen, which they always do, I felt felt the melancholy that affected the actions of the characters. Even while requiring a healthy patience, it was a delightful read, and the slow plot is easy to forgive when you look at the remaining books in the series.

Date Completed: April 2, 2008
Rating (1-5): 3.5