Walk Softly, Rachel by Kate Banks
Frances Foster Books
I.L. 7th and up
I. Synopsis- Rachel introduces herself as “Rachel three”. She does this because her grandmother’s name is Rachel (Rachel one) and her mom’s name is Rachel (Rachel two). Her good friend Adrian is leaving town to go to Africa. He is her only close friend so this hits her pretty hard. He gives her a sweater that she wears quite often. As of late, she’s been getting this yearning to learn about her older brother, Jake, who died when she was only seven years old. Her mom and dad have left his room exactly the way it was the day he died. One day, Rachel goes into the room and starts looking around. While she is looking, she happens upon his journal. Now, throughout the book, entries from Jake’s journal appear, always appearing to have something to do with Rachel’s life. Rachel makes a new friend, Bowman, whose parents are friends of her parents. They go out a couple of times and become semi-close despite the four year difference. She notes that he is obsessed with fire, striking matches and just watching them burn. He disappears one day before the big Bread Festival that their town holds. She wonders what happened to him and then, that night, the old historic mill burns down.
II. Evaluation of Work as Literature-
-Authenticity- This work can be very believable for in this day and age, there are many suicides and many families are willing to wash away the suicide from their memories and just record it as “an accident”. Also, since Rachel is ten years younger then Jake, she didn’t really remember him all that much so it would be natural for a young girl to be curious about her older brother that she didn’t even know. Also, the title of the book comes from a phrase that she remembers her mother telling her when she was younger and that was “Walk softly, Rachel. You might wake Jake”. For the longest time, that was the only thing that she knew about Jake. This is very believable because I don’t remember a whole lot about when I was seven years old and younger. I think that if I was in Rachel’s position, I would forget about Jake as well because the human brain usually blocks out incidents and so Rachel’s mind might have blocked out the tragedy of Jake’s death by deleting him from her memory all together.
III. Personal Comments- This book was very good. I enjoyed how the journal entries of Jake scattered throughout the book even though Rachel was only recorded of reading them once or twice. It seems to me that Rachel has bad luck with boys. First, her brother commits suicide, then Adrian leaves for Africa, and then Bowman burns down the mill so he might get sent to jail. Also, she keeps a little something of each of them. From her brother she keeps his journal and from Adrian she keeps his sweatshirt. Bowman, instead, she keeps a memory of him wearing the red scarf that she made for him.