Pine Island Home
By Polly Horvath
Fiona, Marlin, Natasha and Charlie McCready are four sisters who have travelled the world with their parents and lived in many places. During their time in Borneo, the unthinkable happens – their parents take a short vacation to Thailand and are killed in a tsunami. Luckily their Aunt Martha, whom they have never met, agrees to take them in. She lives on tiny Pine Island, off the coast of British Columbia.
The girls are understandably anxious about their new home but look forward to it just the same. Fiona, as the oldest, takes it upon herself to reassure her sisters and to take charge of them on the long flight from Borneo to Canada. But when they finally arrive in the small town of St. Mary’s by the Sea, they learn of yet another tragedy – Aunt Martha has now died too.
Alone on Martha’s farm, the girls make a decision. They will live on their own, with 14-year-old Fiona in charge, and try to fool the schools and social services into believing that they have some kind of adult guardian. It won’t be easy, but they are determined to stay together as sisters and not be split up and sent to different homes.
After acquiring Aunt Martha’s bike, Fiona is able to ride into town, register the girls for school and even pick up a few groceries. She is also able to meet with Mr. Pennypacker, a lawyer who informs her that the girls have inherited Martha’s farm. But Fiona realizes that she’s in a real predicament when the schools and Mr. Pennypacker want a guardian’s signature for all the required paperwork.
That’s when the girls meet their neighbour, Al Farber. He lives in a trailer next door, is extremely rude and disheveled, and sits around drinking beer all the time. The girls make him a deal that they will bring him dinner every night, and in exchange, he will act as their legal guardian when necessary.
As it turns out, this is a very difficult lie to maintain and Fiona especially feels the stress building. How will she be able to care for her sisters, pay her bills, go to school and keep up the pretense of having an actual adult looking after her?
Pine Island Home is a lovely story of family ties and close friendships. It’s the story of sisters who love one another and who create their own new family when their first one is lost. If you enjoy realistic fiction that leaves you feeling hopeful and happy, try Pine Island Home.