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Carrying Mason Review by April Elstrom

Joyce Magnin
5300 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
(616) 698-6900

It's 1958 and Luna's best friend, Mason, has just died. As Luna checks in on Mason's mentally handicapped mother, Ruby Day, she begins to realize just how much Ruby has relied on Mason. Realizing that Ruby won't be able to take care of herself without Mason, Luna decides to take on Mason's burden and care for his mother, even when others oppose her. But Luna doesn't realize the battle she will have to fight in order to do what is best for Ruby Day.

Carrying Mason is a juvenile fiction book, set in 1958, that addresses the topic of the handicapped and how they've been historically treated in our country. Joyce Magnin does an excellent job of helping preteens develop compassion and understanding for those who are mentally handicapped. The story is intriguing, and thought-provoking. The reader begins to care for Ruby Day and Luna, hoping they will each succeed. Just when you think it might get boring, a surprise twist is thrown in that draws you even further into the story.

Thirteen year old Luna sets a good example for others in how well she takes on Jesus' commandments to care for the widows, the orphans, and the "least of these," but the relationship she has with her older sister isn't ideal. The older sister is shallow, selfish, and boy crazy, and there is a lot of bickering, name-calling, and dislike between the two girls. Although it is apparent that Luna and her family are Christians, the story itself is not overly religious. Their faith is a natural part of their lives and of the story, but it isn't the main focus of the book.

Some families may not like that this book begins with Luna challenging her parents about carrying Mason's coffin. Luna repeatedly asks her father to change his mind, although she does so respectfully. Additionally, some families may not like that Luna leaves her parents home to care for Ruby Day, although she does seek her parent's permission first.

Overall, this is an excellent coming-of-age book for 10-14 year old children. It will probably appeal more to girls than to boys, but it is much better fare than most of the books found on a library's shelves for this age range. The main character is a caring and hard-working role-model, and the book does not have any foul language or romance scenes in it.

My twelve year old daughter and I both enjoyed reading Carrying Mason, and we whole-heartedly recommend it.

Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2011