Dignity with authenticity. Depth of feeling in understatement. Believable characters in a story that is quietly riveting. It’s rare for an author’s first novel to be as beautifully pristine as Jenny Wren by Dawn Watkins. Now celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, as JourneyForth’s first publication, Jenny Wren has proven to be an outstanding inaugural choice.
As the novel opens, the age gap between the main characters was something I immediately noticed because this ordinarily foreshadows homefront conflict. An older couple takes on the challenge of investing themselves in a needy youngster’s day-to-day training. But surprisingly, within the confines of the home at least, the old-fashioned, time-honored methods of Mr. and Mrs. Logan aren’t an issue with Jenny. They answer perfectly to her need for love and security.
The healing power of regular routine soon shows up in the setting and seasons of farm life. Surrounded by fresh air and rural peacefulness, Jenny’s guarded distrust begins to fall away. Whether in the forest “helping” Mr. Logan log while peppering him with questions, or in the kitchen devouring a bowl of Mrs. Logan’s homemade soup—the young girl watches for and absorbs every loving nuance sent her way by the caring couple.
However, bureaucracy casts its shadow over the Logan household. Social service personnel question the couple’s fitness as permanent guardians and threaten to transfer Jenny to what they consider to be a more suitable arrangement. Jenny becomes painfully aware that her security hangs in the balance and, in a moment of despair, complicates her circumstances by running away. But a silver lining accompanies even this impulsive mistake. Through the experience she awakens to the immense value of what she has had in the Logan’s home.
Still, clarity alone, isn’t enough to rescue Jenny from the well-meaning adults who ultimately decide her placement. A newcomer on this chessboard of characters shows up at the last minute. And not even the Logans see his surprise play coming.
A thirty-year favorite I personally treasure (which you will too), Jenny Wren is sheer reading pleasure for generations young, old, and in between.
Read the opening pages of Jenny Wren.
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