Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.
Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.
Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.
Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.
As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.
Grief is complicated at any age, but I feel kids have a more challenging time handling a personal loss because, sometimes, they aren’t able to articulate their feelings. Heck, even adults have trouble with the task.
Jeff Gunhus did an outstanding job depicting the internal struggles people of all ages face when dealing with loss.
I adored everything about Caroline & Mordecai the Gand. It made me smile, and it made me cry. Jeff Gunhus made me reflect on my father, a voice I can’t hear anymore but a face I’ll never forget.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. This book’s audience extends past middle-school. It will touch many hearts.
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)
Meet the Author
Jeff wrote Caroline & Mordecai the Gand after receiving a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. The novella was meant as a private story for his five children on how to face grief by holding onto joy and love. He leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of Old Fox Books in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.