Sophie is haunted by dreams of gravestones under the trees. When her pregnant mother takes a fall and begins labor prematurely, Sophie is guilt-ridden. As the family waits to see if mother and child will survive, Sophie flirts with the neighboring farmer and deals with her oppressive Aunt Rae, who has come to stay with the family for the birth of the baby. As Sophie grows up, she also learns about the family secrets.
This tender, short historical novel is going to appeal to readers who like their stories sparse and grounded in fact. The novel has an authentic view of life in the early 20th century (especially if life was on a small farm). It also boasts well-developed characters and a quick pacing to keep readers engaged.
It might work for younger readers who like their stories set in the past. Flood’s prose is pretty enough to entice an older crowd, too. Sophie is a fully-realized character, and her tender relationship with the neighbor should help add a little romance for readers looking specifically for that. But this is a story ultimately about family, and it is here that Flood particularly excels.
Although Aunt Rae is hard to like and understand at first, her motivations become clear by the end. The fact that Flood is able to make her sympathetic speaks volumes. Although the novel is short, it doesn’t feel rushed, and the conclusion is believable and heartfelt.
Definitely a quiet read, and one that will work for readers who like their books with less flash and pomp. Not a standout for this reader, but there’s definite appeal here, and it should work for younger readers.
No-Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood. Namelos: 2012. Library copy. Read for 2012 Cybils Round 1 Panel.