Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
Today I’m presenting a midgrade contemporary fiction novel by my fellow 2k9 classmate, Rosanne Parry. Heart of a Shepherd tells the story of Brother and his ranching family. Set in rural Oregon, this book transmits a deep spirituality that is not often found in chidren’s novels today. Brother is raised in the Catholic tradition and spends a great deal of the story trying to keep a promise he made to his father before his father leaves to serve in the war in Iraq. Brother and his grandparents hold down the family ranch and life continues with its small triumphs and disappointments. When tragedy does visit the family, it is the strength of family relationships that holds everyone together and allows each of the characters to continue with hope for the future.
Things to like about this story: beautiful prose, strong male characters, complex supporting characters, positive role models, real relationships between grandparents, parents and children and a satisfying (if not entirely happy) ending.
Audience recommendations: independent reading for any middle schooler, classroom reading for fourth through eighth grade in literature or religion classes, adult reading.
Rosanne has created an enduring story that will provide satisfaction for many years. This novel has become one of my favorites to give to boys in the 11 to 14 age bracket.