Book #33 The Family Under the Bridge

I read The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson to my 11- and 8-year-olds, based on the recommendation from The Read-Aloud Family.  It’s about an old Parisian man, Armand, who lives as a vagrant, happily and by choice.  He encounters a young mother and her three small children, who have lost their father and their home, and then his spot under the bridge.  He begrudgingly starts to help them and eventually comes to love them.

It’s a sweet story, but I had a hard time with the homelessness aspect of it.  It’s just so romanticized, with the gypsies and other jolly antics they have.  I’m not saying it’s going to teach children to think being homeless is an optional lifestyle, because that’s ridiculous, but it affected my reading of it.  Even the happy ending was tinged with regret for me.  Instead of feeling like it was such a happy way for everyone to have a home, I just kept thinking, “He’s not going to last with that job and living in a house.  That lifestyle is too imbedded in him.  He’s going to break all of their hearts.”  I didn’t say anything out loud, but I definitely thought about it for a while after.

The only other drawback is that I don’t speak French so reading it aloud meant I murdered the pronunciation.  It is a sweet story and I liked lots of it, I just couldn’t shake some of the realism that haunted me.

Goodreads rating: 3 stars


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