Back in 2005, Gloria Whelan wrote Listening for Lions, this week’s Flashback Friday feature. It is a tale reminiscent of many classics, with an enthralling story line, settings worthy of a painting and characters deeply ensconced in their desires, whether good or evil. Living in East Africa in 1919, Rachel is but 13 when her parents, missionaries, die of influenza, as does Valerie Pritchard, their neighbor’s daughter. Rachel dearly loves Africa and has no desire to leave. Finding herself in the care of the Pritchards, Rachel feels desperate. As the plot thickens, the Pritchards devise an immoral, if not downright evil, plan. Since they have burned their bridges with the wealthy grandfather of their family, they planned to send Valerie to live with this patriarch in failing health, win him over and have them reinstated in his will. With the death of Valerie, their revised plan becomes to send Rachel, also a redhead, in her place, tricking grandfather in an attempt to still accomplish their greedy goal. Rachel wants to refuse, but relents, traveling to England and forming a strong bond with their frail grandfather despite the deception.
Scene descriptions bring the settings to life and readers will feel for the predicament in which Rachel has found herself. Will good win over evil? Will Rachel return to Africa? If you’ve read The Secret Garden and similar classics, give this story a go and you will once again experience the satisfaction of a good story, well told.
Written by Gloria Whelan
Accelerated Reader Level 5.7
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