________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 18 . . . . January 10, 2014


The Four Seasons of Patrick.

Susan Hughes.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2013.
80 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-0-88995-505-9.

Subject Headings:
Children of divorced parents-Family relationships-Juvenile fiction.
Divorce-Juvenile fiction.
Stepfamilies-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-8 / Ages 8-13.

Review by Amy Trepanier.

*** /4



Most summers were lazy and hot. Most summers were the same, the days going on and on and never ending. Usually there was all the time in the world in the summer.

But this summer was different. There was a big red circle around a number on the kitchen calendar. It was a day at the end of August. In just two months, Linda and Claire were moving in.

I want to build the tree house as fast as we can," I told Harry. "So that by the time they come, I have somewhere else to go."

School was done, so Harry and I began our tree house project.

Patrick is no stranger to change. At just nine-years-old, he has already endured the loss of his mother. The changing of the seasons serves as a constant reminder of the passage of time since her absence. When Patrick is faced with a new and similarly challenging change in his family, he uses the rapid procession of the seasons as a countdown to the beginning of his 'new life'.

      The Four Seasons of Patrick sees a young boy through a full year of personal growth, beginning with a winter chock-full of fun with Harry, his best friend. Initially, Patrick's father invites his friend Linda and her young daughter, Claire, to his home for dinner, infrequently, and Patrick is only slightly unsettled by his father's relationship with the new woman in his life. Patrick feels uncomfortable at the notion of another woman replacing his mother in their family home, but he manages to avoid giving the situation too much thought.

      As winter becomes spring, Patrick can no longer ignore Linda and Claire's much more frequent presence in his family's home. Before long, Patrick's father announces that he has asked Linda to marry him and that she and Claire will be moving into Patrick's house before the end of the summer. Patrick is dismayed. He has grown comfortable with the cozy family unit of three he, his brother, and his father have created in the years since his mother's passing. He feels that the addition of the two outsiders will essentially crowd him out of his own home and change his family dynamic for the worse. He immediately enlists his best friend to help him with the construction of a tree house to serve as a second home and hideout for him.

      Late spring and summer are spent hammering and drilling away at the tree house. Patrick's brother assists him and Harry, and his father provides construction materials as he is renovating the family home in preparation for Linda and Claire's arrival.

      All too soon, August arrives, and Patrick's soon-to-be stepmother and stepsister move into the house. Patrick escapes to his tree house, but his plan is foiled when his father insists that he invite his irritating young stepsister to see the tree house. Patrick is chagrined. Claire drives him berserk! Eventually, upon recognizing how subdued and seemingly sad Claire has become since moving into the house, Patrick relents. He realizes that Claire, too, has lost the only home and family she's ever known. Patrick's sense of empathy wins out, and he takes Claire to the tree house. Much to his surprise, Patrick and Claire bond over the tree house, and both come to see their newfound step-sibling relationship as a positive change in their lives.


Amy Trepanier holds a BA in Psychology from the University of British Columbia and an MLIS from the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies. She now is now the Teen Services Librarian at Red Deer Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.