Another book I picked up on my trip to the Scholastic warehouse to find holiday gifts for my students. This one's content is definitely much too dark for me to be willing to give it to one of my students, but I myself loved it!
I loved the atmosphere, and delighted in the detailed and vivid descriptions of the village of Pagus Parvus and its inhabitants. Joe is one of the more fascinating and endearing characters I've come across recently, and I loved that we got to understand him a little better by the end.
Mostly, though, I loved what this book had to say about free will and choice and fate and destiny and luck. This conversation between Joe and Ludlow is one of my favorites in the book:
Joe tried to reassure me. "It's common enough to think like that," he said," to feel unworthy of good fortune, but have you forgotten what I said to you about luck?"
"You said we make our own luck."
"Exactly. You made yours by coming here. Now you work hard and deserve what you have."
"But I never intended to come here," I insisted. "It was chance that Ratchet's carriage was outside the Nimble Finger."
"But it was you who chose Jeremiah's carriage."
"What if I had gone down the hill instead of up? I might have worked with Job Wright shoeing horses. Then you would have taken on one of the Sourdough boys when they came up to see the frog."
"That is a possibility," said Joe, "but the Sourdough boys can barely read or write."
"I can only do that because I went to Mr. Jellico."
"But you sought him out."
And so it would go on, in circles, until one evening Joe asked, "Are you happy here?"
"And if you could go back in time, to the City, what would you change?"
"I don't know," I said. "If I had done something different then I might never have met you."
"Exactly," said Joe with finality. "Everything that happened to you, bad or otherwise, ultimately brought you here."
And I think it's another illustration of the beauty of this book that not only are good things attributed to the sum of our choices, but all of the bad consequences are equally easily followed back to each individual's own actions.