Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in Book Reviews, Quebec | 0 comments

Close-to-the-Heel Summary: Part of “Seven the Series,” Rennie is the grandson of David McLean that no one knew about. When his grandfather dies, he leaves a task for each of his seven grandsons to complete. Rennie’s task is to venture to Iceland and create a memorial for his grandfather’s friend, but when he gets there events snowball until he finds himself in life and death situation. Whether he makes it out alive and solves the mysteries surrounding him depend on his determination and his ability to face his grief.

Number of Pages: 257

Age Range: 14-16

Review: I hadn’t previously had a chance to read “Seven the Series,” so I was quite happy to be able to add them all to my list. Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock is the first one I’ve read. I love the premise behind the series – fellow author Eric Walters came up with the idea of a grandfather dying and leaving a task for each of his seven grandsons to complete. Walters got six of his writer friends to join him in the venture, and they each took a grandson and task and wrote a book. McClintock is the only female writer of the seven.

Rennie is considered the lost grandson because his grandmother never told his grandfather she was pregnant when they parted ways. Her daughter was Rennie’s mother, and when she died the truth came out about who her father was.

Still dealing with grief over the accidental death of his mother in a rock slide, Rennie takes another hit when he finds out two months after the fact that his grandfather died. When his grandfather’s lawyer shows up to tell him the news and give him the task of going to Iceland, Rennie decides to honour his grandfather’s wishes and works to convince his father to let him go.

This was simply a great story. I enjoyed the setting in Iceland, the extremely well-paced mysteries that McClintock weaves around Rennie’s task and his character growth as he comes to terms with the death of his mother and takes a giant step forward in becoming an adult. I liked being exposed to Iceland’s culture, and learning about their system of second names.

But I think my favourite part was the scene between Rennie and his father at the end. They have such a conflicted relationship, especially since Rennie’s mother died, leaving them with only each other, but McClintock brings Rennie’s story to a satisfying close.

What surprised and intrigued me the most though was that the character I liked the best technically wasn’t even in the book, Rennie’s mother. He obviously has a special place for her in his heart, and when he describes her she seems like a very caring person that I wanted to know more about.

Orca is publishing seven sequels to the seven books in October, and I can’t wait to read more about Rennie.

Memorable Quotes:

“There are times in everyone’s life when we confuse sorrow with blame, when being powerless makes us lash out in anger and when we do things that we regret. Often this happens when a loved one dies, leaving us to wonder why this had to happen to them, why it didn’t happen to us instead.” – David McLean from Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock, page 29

“‘He was like that,’ I said. ‘He had this idea that if you get out of your comfort zone and take on something, especially if it’s for someone else, you can learn more about yourself in a few days or a few weeks than you ever could in a whole lifetime of just doing the same cautious thing day in and day out.'” – Rennie from Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock, page 39

“Do you really see your life flash before your eyes just before you die? If that turns out to be true, she’d be there. She’d be the biggest part of it. My mom and her smile. My mom and the flowery scent of her as she sat beside me at the kitchen table and patiently explained a math problem for the hundredth time. She was always patient. Always soft-spoken. She never yelled. She never said anything mean. She never made me feel stupid when I messed up. She just wanted to understand – what happened and what can we do to make it better?” – Rennie from Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock, page 206

Close to the Heel by Norah McClintock is published by Orca Book Publishers (2012).
(Buy this book: Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Booksellers)

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