Elizabeth Yates offers, as usual, a wonderfully well-written story. Therein are significant and mature themes that she presents from the innocent perspective of the protagonist, in a gentle yet truthful manner. Her characterization is rich, and the setting is engaging. This book matters.
I was a little disappointed that the version of Christianity she presents is not so much Gospel as it is humanism, but, for a mature child reader, this is good for a talking point along with the discussion that will be had about the major themes of prejudice, racism, poverty, suicide, child neglect, adultery, and alcoholism. It sounds heavy, listing all those themes, but while it is intense at times, really, it’s merely significant and moving and real.
I believe there needs to be a book study made to go along with this: one that delves into an analysis of tone, style, mood, and context, as well as the usual character, setting, and themes analysis.
Highly recommended for mature adolescent readers and adults alike.
This was such a lovely story! I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters, and wish there was a sequel. I will definitely be reading it again!
This was the first book I read from the good and the beautiful and by far my favorite. It encouraged and showed you how to be a shining light in the ugliness and beauty of life. I also loved the clean love story intermingled in the book and the relationships Mary had with the other students. I, without a doubt, am going to read it again.
We love Elizabeth Yates at our place.
I am thoroughly revelling in this beautifully-told, gentle story. The characters are eminently lovable, and while the themes are mature and significant, they are not overwhelmingly or disturbingly imparted.
I would just love for someone to write a study guide for this book, for my daughter when she is old enough to enjoy it. Hoping…
Elizabeth Yates masterfully weaves the most difficult of mortal circumstances and situations with pervading hope and light. Through endearing characters we learn that such an ability is obtained by those who are met with human imperfection yet choose to respond with long-suffering, forgiveness, and love. We are taught that such reactions can be experienced in our lives through our own duplication of such noble responses. Continued enlightenment teaches that love and dedication to God begat love and dedication to fellowman and that such charity can alter the natural consequences of those born into inequitable circumstances.
With continued moral merit we identify that equality for all is the fruit of acceptance despite difference, that true love embodies selflessness, thoughtfulness, and purity of devotion, and that one’s determined efforts to produce good, even when met with resistance and ignorance, can bring forth mighty change, both of mind and heart.
This warm, inspiring story—set in a rural New England village called Nearby—is brought to life through the eyes of Mary, the new teacher who devotes herself to changing prejudices and lifting her students’ minds and hearts to a higher place. With beautiful description, award-winning author Elizabeth Yates weaves a complex plot packed with endearing characters and powerful messages.
“Nearby is a wonderful example of literature that can address deep, mature issues—such as prostitution, suicide, neglect, and lust versus love—in a way that is not overly descriptive or dark, maintaining an underlying feeling of light and hope. Especially for older teenagers and adults, this clean language version of Nearby is a deeply inspiring book with one of the most beautiful, feel-good endings to a book I have ever read.” –Jenny Phillips
Clean language version
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