The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill: Layered with Emotion

A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mom, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them―her mom has brought home guests at times, but none have ever stayed.

Yet when her mom brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mom abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands.

In this stunning contemporary retelling of “The Crane Wife” by the Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, one fiercely pragmatic teen forced to grow up faster than was fair will do whatever it takes to protect her family―and change the story.

“The Crane Husband” by Kelly Barnhill is layered with emotion and meaning. While this is not at heart a happy story, it is an emotional and compelling story. It takes a traditional story and changes that story into one with real emotion and heart. Telling the story of a 15 year old teenager, it details abuse, trauma, and neglect, a cycle that either continues or is broken. In this story, the girl finds a way to break that cycle. 

I found this compelling and heartbreaking, as we see the past inform the current life. And ultimately, while short, this story packs such an emotional punch, that it’s worth reading over and over. If you like fantasy and complex, emotional stories, I highly recommend this story by Kelly Barnhill. It will resonate with you for a long time, as you ponder the themes and ideas it evokes. I also think this story is one readers will love and layered with emotion. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 feathers. 

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