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Have you ever considered all you experience when you listen to a symphony? Your senses are engaged: the sight of the furious violinists; the feel of the pounding percussion instruments under at your feet; the sound— Well, the sound moves you. It puts your emotions in play. One moment, you may hang, waiting, anticipating, perhaps even feeling melancholy as the French horns sound out, or you may experience a bit of pain when the violinists “cry.” The next moment, you may feel intense longing. In listening, you might experience mercy granted—or joy restored. If you heard the parts individually, you might wonder where each intended to go. But when you experience them merged, in accord, you experience the “whole.” For me, a good story provides a similar experience.
When I read a work classified as YA, I look for those things that for me, make the work “sing.” I want a story that is engaging and memorable. I want heroes who are unique people (after all, aren’t we all?), but who don’t think themselves so very “special” that they expect the world revolves around them. I want them, even in their limited age and experience, able to exercise good judgment and to make good decisions or, when they do not, capable of identifying where they went wrong so as to avoid the same traps in the future. I want some semblance of wisdom to shine through. (These are, after all, works intended for the young.) With all that said, I am delighted to add that, in The Clay Lion, Amalie Jahn hit every single note—with perfect pitch and with inimitable timing.
Brooke and her brother, Branson, share a sincere love and friendship. They spend time together willingly and enjoy one another’s company. So when Branson, who is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, dies shortly thereafter, Brooke is devastated. She investigates the potential causes of his illness and then, as one might expect in a day when time travel is available, decides to go back in time. Her goal: to stop the events that brought his illness about in the first place. But as Brooke soon discovers, playing with time and events can have some devastating consequences. Some things are just meant to be. Indeed, the pain we experience in life teaches us about far more than merely suffering. In Brooke’s case, it teaches her (as the author herself might say) to “live in the present.”
Parents: get a copy of The Clay Lion for your young ones. Teachers: get one for your classrooms. Let the youth in your life experience the fullness of the symphony that Amalie Jahn has created. You’ll soon see why Amalie Jahn earned a Gold Medal for The Clay Lion from Literary Classics!