An Irish family stays together with the help of Fiona’s talent for making one-of-a-kind lace in this heartwarming immigration story from the New York Times bestselling creator of The Keeping Quilt.
Many years ago, times were hard in all of Ireland, so when passage to America becomes available, Fiona and her family travel to Chicago. They find work in domestic service to pay back their passage, and at night Fiona turns tangles of thread into a fine, glorious lace. Then when the family is separated, it is the lace that Fiona’s parents follow to find her and her sister and bring the family back together. And it is the lace that will always provide Fiona with memories of Ireland and of her mother’s words: “In your heart your true home resides, and it will always be with you as long as you remember those you love.”
This generational story from the family of Patricia Polacco’s Irish father brims with the same warmth and heart as the classic The Keeping Quilt and The Blessing Cup, which Kirkus Reviews called “deeply affecting” in a starred review, and embraces the comfort of family commitment and togetherness that Patricia Polacco’s books are known for.
Polacco (Clara and Davie) adds to her library of autobiographical stories with this tale about her Irish forebear Fiona, who learns lace making when her mother's once-expert hands are stricken with arthritis. Fiona's father, Mick, tells his children about finding his way to their mother's house for the first time by following scraps of lace. Not long after they leave Ireland for Chicago, the chaos of the Great Chicago Fire separates Fiona and her sister Annie from their parents, and Fiona helps her parents find them by cutting up her own precious lace to leave a similar trail. While the story occasionally bogs down in detail and the Irish dialect can be a bit over the top ("Such talk, Mick.... You've been kissin' the Blarney"), Polacco's valuable portrait of hardship in Ireland and her descriptions of the unjust working conditions that migr s encountered in the U.S. ("Remember, they are chargin' us rent for the rattrap we live in they own it! And they'll be levying for your uniform as well") supplies a gritty picture of the immigrant experience. The prestige Fiona's precious skill brings her is a revelation, too. Ages 4 8.