The Year the Swallows Came Early

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2010

By Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Reviewed by Nicole Timofeevski

The Year the Swallows Came Early book cover

The Year the Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn
Fitzmaurice; HarperCollins: New York, 2009;
$16.99

What happens when someone you love betrays you? Well, in this book, The Year the Swallows Came Early, you can learn that understanding and forgiving someone you love is the key for your own peace of mind. The main character of this book, Eleanor (Groovy) Robinson, deals with disappointment and anger, but later she finds out that you can’t hate someone forever and that, sooner or later, you’ll have to forgive them.

When this story starts off, taking place in the historic town of San Juan Capistrano, Groovy witnesses her dad being arrested and has no clue why. That night her mom reveals to Groovy that her great-grandmother had left her a lot of money. Upon hearing this, Groovy starts to eagerly make plans for using this large sum to go to cooking school. But she only gets a few seconds to be excited because her mother shatters Groovy’s dreams by informing her that her father had lost all that money on a single bet, and that was why she had called the police. When I read this part, I was automatically hooked because I so desperately wanted to know how Groovy would react to this news. Groovy was disappointed about losing that money, but she also started to doubt that her father cared about her.

Meanwhile, Groovy’s best friend, Frankie, doesn’t even want to think about his mother or read her letters. He is mad because his mother went on a voyage with his stepfather and left him with his stepbrother, Luis. She promised to be back in three days but didn’t come back for three years. That whole time, Frankie believed that she had betrayed him, and so he never chose to read or hear the explanations from her, and he doesn’t even want to know the real reason she didn’t come back. Even when she appears at Luis’s shop, Frankie still chooses not to listen to her, and so she leaves with a broken heart.

But there are wise and helpful people in Frankie and Groovy’s neighborhood. Mr. Tom really wanted to help Frankie. He once said to him, “All that anger will turn you to stone.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what ends up happening to Frankie, and then to Groovy as well. From just being sad and discouraged, Groovy becomes very angry and starts to hate her father.

When mid-spring came, so did the scout swallow, and this time early. The rest of the swallows followed, bringing many changes. Groovy finally talked to her father on the phone, and she decided to forgive him and give him another chance. After a while, Luis explained to Frankie what really happened with his mother. Frankie understood and sincerely forgave her. It was a year of much disappointment and loss, but it would be a year to remember, the year the swallows came early.

I learned from this book that “people are just who they are.” That means you need to be able to accept and trust the people you love before jumping to conclusions or thinking negatively about them. I also learned that you can’t carry so much anger and hatred inside yourself because it will slowly destroy you and make many people around you miserable and unhappy. You should try to do as many good things as you can, and stay positive, because it will not only make you feel good, but it’ll also brighten up the world around you.

The Year the Swallows Came Early Nicole Timofeevski

Nicole Timofeevski, 11
Carlsbad, California

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