Summary: Thirteen year-old Rachel is in foster care after the death of her mother and her brother Caleb. Bounced around from one foster home to the next, Rachel finds herself in trouble with the law and headed to Amelia Walton’s house, otherwise known as her last chance. Amelia has the touch for mending wounded spirits, and Rachel finds a true home with her and foster siblings Raymond, Crystal and Chelsea. But when Rachel’s paternal grandmother contacts her out of the blue, Rachel is faced with deciding who her family really is, and comes up with an idea to help mend Amelia’s wounded spirit in the process.
Number of Pages: 161
Age Range: 13-15
Review: Throughout my reading today I had the image of a woman taking care of a wounded bird. Because that’s who Amelia is, a caretaker of the wounded. Her gentle ways, unwavering understanding and support provide stability and love for those under her care, allowing them the chance to heal from injuries inflicted upon them, physical and emotional.
But the reason why Amelia is so good at helping the wounded heal is because she is also wounded. Under self-imposed house arrest for over thirty years due to a condition that causes growths on her face and body, Amelia fears going out in public will leave her open to stares and jeers. She has also been rejected by her own mother, and thus can relate to the problems of the children and teens in her care.
When Rachel comes to live with Amelia, it takes time, but she finds a home there with Amelia, Raymond and the twins. It’s almost as if they come to recognise each other as kindred spirits, and while Amelia is the adult who provides Rachel with stability and space (I especially liked the rule of having to spend an hour at the lake every day), Rachel returns the favour and pushes Amelia to expand her comfort zone bit by bit with the help of the other kids.
They are a family. So much so that when Rachel is presented with the opportunity to live with her grandmother and her father, I didn’t want her to. I was sick about it while she made her decision because I knew I wanted her to realise what she had, even if it meant not living with her blood relatives.
White writes in her acknowledgements that Anne of Green Gables was her inspiration and that she hopes people will care about Rachel as much as they care about Anne. It worked, because I do. By the end of the book I loved their whole family, and I wished that nothing would happen to change it. It’s an eclectic arrangement, even more untraditional than Marilla, Matthew and Anne, but it works and it is beautiful.
I loved all of White’s characters, but Raymond was my favourite. I know he’s just a supportive character, but what I did read about his background and his perspective and actions in general just got to me. He stole my heart.
After reading “Ten Thousand Truths” and “The Year Mrs. Montague Cried” and loving them both, I look forward to reading any books White writes in the future with great enthusiasm.
“Rachel knew that a trade was being made: a new, good kid for her, an old one that was cursed and evil.” – from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 4
“‘The peaches are really good.’ The sound of her own voice startled Rachel. She couldn’t even remember putting the thought together and deciding to speak it – the words had just come out and at first she wasn’t sure if Amelia had heard her.
‘Have another one,’ Amelia answered. ‘The whole basket is yours and they go bad so quickly. It’s like so much else in our lives. We have to enjoy it while we have it.'” – conversation between Rachel and Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 25
“She couldn’t get over the fact that she could walk right into a room next door and pick anything she wanted to read from hundreds of books. Right next door were enough books to fill her craving to read other people’s stories so she wouldn’t have to think anything about the miserable story of her own life.” – Rachel from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 27
“Rachel blew out the candles, cut the first piece, and passed it to Zac. She didn’t bother making a wish, though. What’s the point of making wishes when what you most wish for could never come true? she thought to herself.” – Rachel from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, pages 42-43
“‘Raymond has used food all his life to fill up a place that no amount of food will ever begin to fill. He came to me two years ago, abused and neglected, at a weight that was in danger of ending his life. Little by little, I have tried to fill those empty hurting places with a feeling of belonging and value. I will not take the pleasure of food away from him, but I will try to give him the things he needs to fill up the holes in his soul.’ Amelia picked up the tray and left the room.” – Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 55
“The way she felt seemed too good to be true and a part of her worried that something would happen to ruin things or take away this feeling.” – Rachel from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 73
“Rachel drank the last bit of hot chocolate from her cup and set it in Jodie’s backpack. As she strapped on her shoeshoes she thought about Jodie’s words: She’s harder on herself than anyone else would ever be.” – from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 81
“‘Rachel’s right,’ Jodie said. ‘By never questioning Amelia’s refusal to leave the house, we’ve let her tell herself year after year that she’s right to not let strangers see her. She needs to see that what strangers think is not important. She needs to know that the people who love her don’t believe her world should be limited to Walton Lake. We are going to do it, I just know it. And you, Rachel, will be the kid that finally changes the story that Amelia has told herself for thirty years.'” – Jodie from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 91
“Over the last few days she had thought a lot about how she felt the last time she had gone out, about the fear and self-consciousness that had almost paralyzed her at the seed store. She had told herself a few times since then that she had been right to stay here all those years and not expose herself to the judging looks of others. But standing here today, it occurred to her that the joy and privilege of being here was not hinged on the exile she had imposed on herself. In fact, her love of her home had become even clearer to her when she had finally let herself leave. She knew now that she had the choice. She could come and go and this place and this feeling would still be here for her when she got home. And no matter how it might seem, she knew that the feeling had nothing to do with how other people saw her.” – Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 105
“Take it from me: most of the beliefs in our shortcomings are spoken much louder from within than from anyone else.” – Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 135
“‘This isn’t about me, Rachel,’ Amelia answered. ‘All I have ever wanted for you, for any of my kids, is a place you can be safe, a place where you can find yourself, a place you can call home. When home can be another place, whether it happens now or when you are grown up and ready for a family of your own, I am more than happy to embrace that.'” – Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 153
“‘You are deserving of love, and the most important place that love comes from is within yourself.'” – Amelia from Ten Thousand Truths by Susan White, page 155