Nine year-old Patrick faces troubling changes in his home. Since his mom’s death, Patrick, his brother Trevor and his dad have been on their own. But now Dad’s friend Linda and her pesky daughter Claire keep coming to visit. Worse still, Patrick learns that Dad is going to marry Linda, and she and Claire are moving into the house with Patrick.
Frustrated and unsure, Patrick retreats, spending time away from the family with his best friend. Together they build a treehouse, a safe place to hide away from Claire the pest. But before long, Patrick suspects that Claire isn’t happy about her new home either. As he works through his own unhappiness, he begins to wonder if Claire is unhappy, too.
In the course of Patrick’s journey through the year, he begins to see Claire as more than the annoying little tag-along. This transition from self-pity to empathy is the turning point which makes the story so much more than a tale of adjustment to blended family life (a valuable lesson on its own) and pushes further into not only peace with new housemates, but compassion, love and understanding.
The narrative is straight-forward and easy for children to follow, yet fun and tender as well. As a single parent facing this very transition, this is a book that makes my reading list of stories to share with my daughter. The way it’s written easily opens conversation topics about the coming changes and allows opportunity to discuss the fears and frustrations as well as to begin to explore the positives as the new family is built.
None, though Patrick’s father and fiancée move in together after becoming engaged. No romance between the two is featured in the story.
Patrick’s brother Trevor tells a story about their mother pointing out a star and naming it as their star. No matter what happens, she tells them, the star will always connect them. Not really a spiritual theme per se, but a sweet moment.