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The Independent Critic

 "My Life Begins!" An Absolute Charmer 

Patricia MacLachlan's "My Life Begins!" is an absolute charmer, an early middle grade novel that poignantly and humorously explores the very changing life of one nine-year-old Jacob, a boy who wants nothing more than a litter of puppies but who instead ends up with what he semi-affectionately calls "The Trips," newborn baby girls Kath, Char, and Lizzie.

Not quite sure what to make of "The Trips," Jacob turns them into a science project and begins to watch their first days, weeks, and months of life as they go from things not really even as cute as a puppy to tiny beings learning how to smile, talk, grow, and connect with the world that surrounds them.

Maclachlan, author of the Newbery Medal winning "Sarah, Plain and Tall" and other memorable books, has once again crafted a remarkably memorable tale with gentle, deeply connecting prose and richly developed relationships that feel loving and honest and true and more than a little funny.

As Jacob gets to know "The Trips," we get to know Jacob, his parents, his nanny Mimi and, of course, these adorable little girls. There comes a time, of course, when it becomes apparent that these little girls are more than just "The Trips." They deserve a forever name that commemorates the special role they've taken in Jacob's life.

Watching as this scene unfolds? Oh my, this 50+ year old cynical heart may have shed a tear or two. Okay, Okay. I did. I did shed a tear or two.

"My Life Begins!" is a beautifully told story about how sibling relationships grow and develop and how we come to truly love one another. It's a simple yet meaningful story about how life changes, love evolves, and babies eventually become just as beautiful as puppies.

"My Life Begins!" is a rather short book, a fact that feels surprising given just how much remarkable substance MacLachlan places beneath its covers. An absolute delight from beginning to end, "Patricia MacLachlan's "My Life Begins!" is all the more delightful because MacLachlan so sublimely writes through the lens of a child and treats as sacred this journey we call childhood and this organized unit we call family.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic