After the devastating loss of his wife, David Morgan takes a teaching job at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. David and two of his three children leave their home in Amherst, Massachusetts and travel to Wales to start a new life. Jen, the oldest of David’s three children stays behind with her Uncle Ted and Aunt Beth in order to continue high school. For Christmas vacation, she goes to Wales to visit her family. Upon her arrival, she finds that things are not well amongst the family. David works long hours at the University and when he’s home, he shuts himself up in his study and emerges for only food and sleep. Peter, Jen’s younger brother is bitter and sulky. He never stops complaining about being his Wales. Betty, the youngest of the three children misses Jen terribly and hopes that her presence will help bring balance and peace to the household. Not long after her arrival, Peter tells Jen about a strange artifact that he has found. It is an ancient harp key that shows Peter visions of the life of Taliesin, a famous Welsh sixth century bard. At first, Jen doesn’t believe Peter, but when the key’s strange visions become visible to a wider audience, the Morgan family must act together to protect the key and the family itself.
Nancy Bond’s A String in the Harp is an excellent blend of fantasy and reality. The author seamlessly transitions from the present to the past. Also, when more people can see the key’s visions, Bond flawlessly blends the modern world with the world of Taliesin. Bond’s style of writing is easy to follow, yet intriguing and intricate. She incorporates a lot of Welsh culture, history, and legend into the story, giving it a deeper, richer feeling.
I think that this book is an excellent read for any young adult. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from reading this book. The character of Jen represents a young adult who is not ready to grow up, but is forced to take on the challenging role of guardianship because of the death of a parent. Her scenario relates to many teens and even some preteens throughout the world. The character of Peter also relates to many teens and preteens all across the world. Peter and his father, David, fight an innumerable amount of times because Peter believes himself old enough to have opinions and make decisions, but David doesn’t listen to him because he believes him to be young, naive, and whiny. Although this situation is rather cliché, in A String in the Harp the outcome is rather refreshing, definitely worth the read.
P.S. A String in the Harp is a Newbery Honor Book
I give it 4 out of 5 stars
Yours in reality and in fantasy,