The Blue Glass Heart

  • Review
By – April 15, 2023

In this evoca­tive sto­ry, a young girl named Sarah acci­den­tal­ly breaks her bubbe’s trea­sured glass bowl. Not only is she for­giv­en for this unin­ten­tion­al act, but frag­ments of the bowl end up mak­ing their way around the world and even­tu­al­ly return to Sarah’s great-grand­daugh­ter. The nar­ra­tive demon­strates both the joys of shar­ing and the bonds that con­nect generations.

Through­out the book, Fedele’s strik­ing use of col­or inten­si­fies the sim­plic­i­ty of the text. Whether lost in the churn­ing waves” of the sea, or almost wind­ing up in a piece of fish stew, the blue shards sparkle on the page. Fedele’s first pic­ture shows the bowl filled with bright yel­low lemons, a bright­ness that tempts Sarah to reach up and touch the glass while her mother’s back is turned. It’s an impulse with which chil­dren will iden­ti­fy. The brown earth tone of Sarah’s dress, the deep cop­per col­or of the pots, and the amber cur­tains stand in con­trast to the white­ness of the kitchen fixtures.

Pieces of blue glass trav­el from Coney Island to Flori­da, Venezuela, and Tel Aviv. A moth­er finds one while wash­ing clothes out­doors. A man picks one up on the beach and offers it to his daugh­ter as a reminder of the home they are about to leave. A girl from Israel, who feels lone­ly as she set­tles in New York, gives the bro­ken glass as a gift to the one class­mate who has shown her kind­ness. In each sce­nario, imag­i­na­tion and empa­thy imbue an ordi­nary, bro­ken object with mean­ing. The author avoids sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty by telling sto­ries that, just like the glass, appear only in frag­ments — frag­ments that have the poten­tial to become some­thing more.

This beau­ti­ful sto­ry incor­po­rates both tan­gi­ble and emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence with a sense of bal­ance and calm.

Emi­ly Schnei­der writes about lit­er­a­ture, fem­i­nism, and cul­ture for TabletThe For­wardThe Horn Book, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, and writes about chil­dren’s books on her blog. She has a Ph.D. in Romance Lan­guages and Literatures.

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