Friday, February 26, 2021

Guy Friday- Into the Wind

Loizeaux, William. Into the Wind
March 2nd 2021 by One ELM Books 
ARC provided by the publisher

Rusty lives on an island off the New England coast with his father, who works in the local hardware store, his bossy older sister, and his mother, who is currently away at a residential treatment center for depression. This is hard for a ten year old, and if the summer weren't bad enough, Rusty has to go to summer school for math and his best friend is away. He is excited about a small boat that a neighbor has given him to work on, and he is making a project of fixing it and learning to sail. While working on the boat one day, local artist Hazel asks if he will take her out in the boat. The problem? She's elderly and in a wheelchair. Because it is a small town, before long she is asking his father if Rusty will do odd jobs for her, feeding him chicken salad and watermelon for lunch, and helping him with his math before he mows her lawn, dusts her living room, and learns about sailing from her. Hazel is also matter-of-fact about his mother, and allows Rusty to talk a bit more about his feelings than he is encouraged to talk at home. Eventually, his mother comes home, summer winds down, and his connection with Hazel fizzles out. Luckily, their one day of sailing was a memorable one that both enjoyed. 
Strengths: This was well written and definitely painted a vivid picture of life in a small New England town. The information about sailing was understandable and informative, and I liked that Hazel and Rusty were able to bond over a shared interest. I wish that there were more occasions for middle grade readers to meet the elderly, either in books or in person. Hazel is portrayed as engaged in the present and passionate about art and sailing despite her frailty. The issue of Rusty's mother was depicted in a matter-of-fact rather than soppy way, and doesn't highjack the entire story. It's helpful to see students who struggle in school but are able to find some success through help and hard work. 
Weaknesses: This was a gently sad novel of love, learning and loss. The best middle grade novels teach these lessons with a few explosions and embarrassing situations thrown in.
What I really think: The author seems to write primarily literary works for adults; to make this a better middle grade novel, he could have included Rusty's best friend, with whom he could have had more adventures in the boat, and some more highjinks involving working for Hazel. This reminded me strongly of Greene's 1969 A Girl Called Al, a book which brings me to tears and I can't bear to weed. 


  1. A useful and thoughtful review.

  2. Read Greg's review and yours. Thanks for the detail. I love intergenerational stories, and this one captivates me. Believe all young people need mentors who aren't family to give them a different perspective. I am a "wise woman" or mentor to three or four young women, one in prison.