By Carol Hanrahan
It was a snowy weekend in my little corner of the world, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than reading a story about long, lazy summer days in the country. “Baling” by Carol Hanrahan is a delightful coming of age story that chronicles one magical summer in the lives of two teenaged boys.
When Nick and his younger brother, John, find out they have to spend the summer at their Aunt Jess’ farm, helping out with the baling, they are not exactly overjoyed at the prospect. Especially Nick, the older of the two, who’d planned to spend his vacation watching movies, visiting Six Flags Theme Parks, and mostly, attending driving classes in the hope of obtaining his license. Nevertheless, they have little choice except to go along with the plan. From the day they arrive on the farm, life becomes one adventure after another, and they discover that a summer in the country may not be as dull as they’d first imagined. When the boys come across an old Civil War jacket and a packet of letters hidden away in their Aunt’s attic, they team up with Lainey Wallace, the beautiful neighbor girl, and go in search of hidden treasure. In the process, they encounter danger and uncover a family secret, and seventeen-year-old Nick discovers the magic of falling in love.
I really enjoyed this story. The author has a lovely talent for describing the joy of country living. Indeed, the writing was so vivid I could almost smell Aunt Jess’ chocolate cake baking in the oven, see the beauty of the starry night sky, and feel the soft whisper of the summer breeze. The story was very well paced, with a nice balance of action-packed scenes to keep the pages turning, and plenty of quiet moments where I could pause to savor the beauty of the landscape. The story is strong on family values, and is a refreshing reminder of life’s simple pleasures.
The storytelling was lovely, the plot, interesting, and the characters, likeable (if a bit underdeveloped.) All of this added up to a wonderful reading experience. I recommend “Baling” to anyone who enjoys heartwarming stories of life in the country.