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Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Barn - Avi

Released August 1996

Avon Books

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

In terms of Avi's The Barn, I don't think it's my favorite of his novels, but it does offer a great look into life youth faced in the 1800s. Nine-year-old Benjamin's mother's dying wish was to have Benjamin get an education. Since then, Ben's remained at a school where he is mastering his skills.

One day, his sister arrives at the school saying their father has taken ill and they need Ben's help on the family farm. Ben must leave his schooling behind and return to help care for his father who suffered a "fit of palsy," which to today's reader sounds more like a stroke. While Ben's father's life hangs in the balance, he realizes the one thing his father most wanted was to build a new barn. Ben hopes that if they do this for their father it will inspire him to recover.

Life in the 1800s was harsh on children and adults alike, few children did complete their schooling after a certain age. The Barn captures these circumstances beautifully, sticking solely to the harsh realities without glorifying anything.

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