Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Children of Crow Cove: Alek by Bodil Bredsdorff

This is the fourth and final book in the Children of Crow Cove series, translated from the Danish. Like the previous titles, it focuses on one of the children living in or connected to the small community in Crow Cove. In this case, it is the story of Alek, called Doup in the previous books, who was originally rescued by the Crow-Girl. The characters of Crow Cove have moved beyond mere survival and have built a prosperous community. Eidi now runs a store in a nearby harbor town and Ravnar has gone to live there as a fisherman after being rejected by the Crow-Girl, Myna. Alek is ready to move away from his childhood and goes to visit Ravnar, but discovers there are some things that cannot be easily repaired. When he witnesses wreckers and a murder, life becomes even more complicated and perilous. There are no easy answers, but the story still ends with a satisfying conclusion, all the characters, old and new, having found their place in life and in a community.

"The waves rise to lie down again. Ships are built and ships are lost. Small horses live and small horses die. You are born and you disappear in an unending chain. And his time on earth was right here, right now, in the clear morning where his life tied the world together in an eternal moment."

Bredsorff's writing, translated by the talented Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard, is haunting and beautiful. Her characters and their world are primitive, struggling with survival, but also yearn to be accepted and named, part of a community and a home. Alek faces harsh realities - his horse's death, his brother's darkness, and the random cruelty and greed of humans - but he also meets kindness and hope, strength and beauty.

Verdict: These slim stories are beautifully written. Their stark portrayal of the realities of life and the harshness and beauty of life in the small community of Crow Cove will not be for every child, but appreciated by those who love beautiful words and strong stories.

ISBN: 9780374312695; Published 2012 by Farrar Straus & Giroux; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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