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'The Wish and the Peacock:' An allegory of letting go and growth

From the best-selling author of "A Monster Like Me" comes Wendy S. Swore's new novel, "The Wish and the Peacock" (Shadow Mountain Press)

© Shadow Mountain Press/TNS/TNS “The Wish and the Peacock” by Wendy S. Swore.

By Susan Bailey, Tribune News Service

From the best-selling author of “A Monster Like Me” comes Wendy S. Swore’s new novel, “The Wish and the Peacock” (Shadow Mountain Press), a fun and ultimately rich story of a young girl’s struggle with loss, grief and change.

Twelve-year-old Paige’s world experiences a seismic shift with the sudden death of her beloved father. Living on a farm that her family has owned for generations, there is nothing she won’t do to hold on to the only life she has ever known. Equipped with her father’s knowledge and relying on her wits, Paige is able to keep the farm going until her mother puts the property up for sale to avoid foreclosure. With the help of her younger brother Scotty and two friends, Mateo and Kimana, Paige conspires to thwart the efforts of the real estate agent who is trying to sell the farm. It is only when a beautiful peacock comes into her life that Paige realizes the need for change. Journalist Asher Ferro, working on a human interest story about the farming community, has a connection to the peacock that Paige will use to come up with a solution that helps everyone involved.

Swore employs rich allegory to tell her story. According to the author, the farm is more than Paige’s home — it represents her identity and her connection with her father. Swore explains the symbolism of the peacock: “I found a quote by Tagore that really resonated with me,” she says. “‘The sparrow is sorry for the peacock at the burden of its tail.’ I immediately imagined a peacock who refused to let go — how his beautiful tail that we all loved would become heavier each year, how the feathers would become ragged and soiled until this wonderful thing that we adored would weigh him down and make it impossible to fly or even to live a good life. It struck me that the thing we can learn most from peacocks is the ability to let go, and accept change — not as to defeat, but as a natural process where we grow and evolve as we build our lives.”

I found the allegory in this book to be very engaging, adding a deeper level to the story. Although targeted at middle-school-aged children, “The Wish and the Peacock” is a book that adults will also appreciate.


GROWTH THROUGH GRIEF

The protagonist develops slowly; there were times when I began to grow weary of Paige’s stubborn refusal to accept what was happening. However, once she begins to perceive her difficulty, Paige’s understanding unfolds in a series of satisfying revelations, granting her the ability to accept change in her life.

Swore does an excellent job of showing how grief can manifest itself in a myriad of ways in children and adults. Paige’s experience is markedly different from her mother’s, creating tension in their relationship. However, as Paige comes to grips with her grief, she is better able to empathize with her mother.

In creating Paige, Swore says, “I wanted to highlight the way farm kids, and specifically farm girls, are capable of amazing work and have skill sets that may be lacking in the current digital age.” As a result, Paige is ingenious and tenacious, demonstrating expertise with mechanical repairs, planting crops, taking care of animals, even building robots for a hobby — skills and interests usually seen in boys. She is a wonderful role model.

Paige’s resourcefulness provides many humorous moments. She, Scotty and her friends hatch a series of harebrained schemes to sabotage the efforts of the hapless and long-suffering real estate agent, Miss Dolly.

Swore’s wish for the story: “I hope kids who read the story feel empowered to make changes for the better in their own lives, regardless of what circumstances that life throws at them. I want them to be able to face an uncertain future with hope instead of fear. I hope they can see all the possibilities, decide what they want, then work hard, and make a wish.”

It’s a story sure to inspire. “The Wish and the Peacock” is available now for purchase.

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Kids Magazine: 'The Wish and the Peacock:' An allegory of letting go and growth
'The Wish and the Peacock:' An allegory of letting go and growth
From the best-selling author of "A Monster Like Me" comes Wendy S. Swore's new novel, "The Wish and the Peacock" (Shadow Mountain Press)
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