Keeping Safe the Stars
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When crisis hits, a young girl becomes the only one left to take care of her family
Pride, Nightingale and Baby are the Stars. Orphaned and living with their grandfather, Old Finn, in rural Minnesota, the children, like their grandfather, are wary of outsiders. They believe, as Old Finn taught them, in self-reliance.
But then Old Finn falls seriously ill and is taken to the hospital all the way in Duluth, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Pride, as oldest, assumes the lead. Though she makes mistakes, she keeps them afloat; they even earn money for the bus trip to Duluth. But when they finally see Old Finn, he can't walk or even say his own name, and Pride knows her days of keeping safe the Stars are drawing to a close. Self-reliance can't make Old Finn well again. But maybe, just maybe, a secret from Old Finn's past might make a way for them to stay together after all.
A poignant story about family and love, Sheila O'Connor has delivered another extraordinary and mesmerizing tale.
knowledge, some he tried to teach to us. Square roots, symphonies, and sonnets. “Old Finn can’t lose his brain.” “Not lose.” Miss Addie tried to say it cheerful, but still she worked her wrinkled hands into a knot. “Hopefully his trouble will just pass.” “But when’s he coming back to Eden?” Baby asked. “Before we go to sleep?” “Probably not,” I said, because I knew the answer without Miss Addie even saying. I rubbed my hand over Baby’s soft brown bristles. Baby kept his head shaved
Nightingale?” Nash tried another smile, but Nightingale just gave him a dull stare, the way she was with any sort of stranger. “I’m guessing you must sing. Or someone hoped you would.” “It’s just for her pajamas,” Baby said. “Nightingales. It’s all she likes to wear.” I grabbed him by the elbow, cupped my hand over his mouth. “You come in and get the Sugar Smacks,” I scolded. “I’ll put on the coffee.” Baby wriggled free, pulled my hand away. “I want to get out Hercules for Sage,”
night. “Okay,” I said. “You can leave a note outside her trailer, tape it to her door so she’ll see it when she lets out Lady Jane. Just tell her that we’re—” I stopped. I didn’t know where we’d go morning until night. “At Paul Bunyan!” Baby said. “Remember when we did that with Old Finn? Paul Bunyan Land. And the statue talked. And I got my picture taken with the giant blue ox, Babe? And we left early in the morning, stayed gone for the whole day.” “We can’t go to Paul Bunyan Land
with Thor, even if it meant a long truck ride back to Goodwell while I owned up to every lie I told, and going home without an extra penny or Justine as our grown-up when we needed one right now. Anything was better than Thor spilling all my stories in the lobby of St. Mary’s, telling Justine I was a liar when I’d only just now met her. If we left now, I could explain it all myself, later in a letter—still the sweet child she imagined, writing her for help. “Well, okay,” I said, “we should
head. No wonder he was always getting hurt. “We won’t be in a magazine?” “Not on my beat,” Nash said. “But someday you just might.” • • • Justine really did serve bread and chocolate for dessert. Hot crusty bread she warmed up in her oven, and a heavy bar of bitter chocolate she broke into little pieces and set out on a plate. She poured the grown-ups tiny china cups of thick black coffee and served the kids pink lemonade in the exact same fancy cups. Sage and Baby chased in the