The Stable House by Laura Smith

The Stable HouseThe Stable House by Laura Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Stable House was an unexpected pleasure. Reminiscent of Jeanette Walls’ autobiographical tales in both style and often up-close-and-personal storytelling, Smith has given us an insider’s look at an eleven year old girl’s mind and life.

Being a child of the late eighties and nineties myself, I was firmly cast back in memory to that era and to the eleven year old girl I was. Heidi, as the main character, cannot help but evoke this response. She is so awkwardly human and so rich in the insecurities of a child just beginning to discover who they are in the broader social world of middle school. At the same time as I was cast back in memory I was also brought to think about my soon-to-be eleven year old son’s perspective. I wondered how similar it might be to Heidi’s and reminded me that for every outburst a parent doesn’t readily understand there is a world of thoughts and feelings that go unspoken during this phase in life.

All of this is to say Smith has produced a story that will speak not only to children of the same age as Heidi but also to any parent who might consider reading it with their child. This is a story of growth and maturing as we get to watch Heidi, through the course of a terrible tragedy and recovery from it, as she breaks out of the shell she didn’t even know she had. Smith gives Heidi a fresh, honest voice in all of her motivations and interactions with family, friends, and potential romantic interests.

So too does Smith give Heidi a vivid world filled with characters that leap right off the page next to her. It was so easy to picture Heidi’s parents and Violet, the older neighbor and friend of the family. Dorothy, Stacey and the other younger cast could be have been plucked directly from the local middle school; it seems girls and boys interact in pretty much the same ways regardless of the time period, as I’ve come to observe through watching my son come up through school. I found this accuracy to be a delightful hook that kept me reading even after I should have gone to bed. I just had to find out what was going to happen next!

Wordsmith’s Verdict: I give The Stable House a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I deducted one star only for the fact that there were multiple editing misses. I suggest Smith have an editor apply a keen eye to line editing as well as punctuation.

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