Monday, August 16, 2010

touch blue is incredibly touching

I finished touch blue by Cynthia Lord today, and I can honestly say that a book hasn't touched my heart like this since I read Out of My Mind.

Touch blue is a simple story with little embellishment. The setting is Bethsaida, a small island in Maine. The main character is Tess, an eleven year old girl. The setting is truly an integral part of Tess. Her dad is a lobsterman, and Tess loves to fish with him and wants to go into the family business someday (her uncle is a lobsterman, as well). The island is so small that there is only one school with one teacher (Tess's mom) teaching all twelve grades.

The twist in the beginning is that the state of Maine plans on closing this island school because of low attendance numbers. That leads the islanders to come up with a plan; bring some children onto the island who need homes, offer them those homes, and then the school will have a high enough enrollment to keep the school open.

The story focuses on the particular child coming to Tess's family, a boy named Aaron. For me, the entire story hinges on the concept of belonging -- where do we belong? Throughout the story we find Tess questioning where she belongs, but more importantly, Aaron, a child who has been uprooted from his own family and at least 2 foster families, questions where he belongs. And finally, there is the question of whether these two belong in the same family. Much to ponder about belonging.

Another integral part of Tess is her belief in superstitions. In fact, each chapter starts with a superstition that Tess has. It's hard to know whether Tess's superstitions stem from the fact that she comes from a fishing family or because she's a typical pre-teen just trying to make sense of life.

Aaron, and his giftedness with music is another delight in this story. His music allows him to express his different moods, but it also allows him to connect with others on the island. In addition, the music serves as a backdrop to some delightful humor at times.

The characters of Tess and Aaron, as they try to find the answer to the question of where they each belong, are characters who will be staying with me for quite some time to come. I shed a few tears at the end of the story (I won't spoil the story and tell you why).

I plan on reading touch blue again because I loved the story so very much! I most definitely will be adding this to my list of possible read alouds for my 5th grade students this year. It is just that good!!! Cynthia Lord has delivered another very lovely, touching story.


  1. Sounds like a Grand Discussion possibility.

  2. LOVE this book and yes it would be a great Grand Discussion.

  3. As a mom who adopted her boys from foster care, and a huge Cynthia Lord fan, I am dying to read this book. I was #2 on the library waiting list, but I may have to break down and order it!

  4. Bill and Maria - it has Grand Discussion and GREat Discussion written all over it! :)

    Carol - This book will truly touch your heart, especially since you have a personal connection. Let me know what you think after you read it.

  5. Karen-
    Broke down and bought TOUCH BLUE on Thursday night, finished it last night, reviewed it this morning. All I have to say, as I said in my review, is that Cynthia Lord totally gets it. I loved TOUCH BLUE!

  6. Carol - Sooo glad you read it!! Thank you for sharing how much you loved it. Given your actual experience with a similar situation, good to know that you think Cynthia Lord got it right. My gut said that was true, but thanks for confirming!!

  7. I know that this is a late comment, but thank you for recommending this book. It is wonderful! I loved the characters, even the bossy neighbor. It was even better that it was set on an island in Maine--a lovely spot and her descriptions of island life are spot on.