Don’t let the title Suffer the Little Children steer you away from this novel by Christina Carson. A friend of mine saw on Goodreads that I was reading this book. She usually likes the same type of fiction I do, but she was a bit frightened about the title. I assured her she had nothing to fear from this beautifully crafted novel set in Alberta, Canada.
One thing is certain. Ms. Carson loves the setting and creates a painting with her descriptions of an isolated, yet wholly stimulating life in the bush. Unconditional love exists in this world – between the animal kingdom and humans. It’s the humans who have a bit of trouble when it comes to practicing unconditional love with those closest to them. Ms. Carson makes Timber, her dog, and Spook, her horse, characters in this book. They become the symbol of what we strive for, but somehow when pride and emotions play chess with the people on the board, unconditional love seems to be impossible to achieve.
The author displays a healthy respect for and acceptance of wildlife, despite dangerous encounters with the most beastly of bears, the grizzly.
The “little children” who suffer in this novel do so because of the judgments and conditions adults put on “love.” Through a native family, lessons on love and acceptance of the past help the other characters move forward in their lives.
The main character, Anne, learns her lesson well, which allows the suffering to end.
Anne states, “I believe that every child, whether fifteen or fifty, longs to hear from his or her parents those words that say ‘I am sorry for all I did that hurt you.’” Anne realizes this as she helps her neighbor’s daughter, Little Bit, deal with the betrayal of her parents, and as Anne herself works to restore her relationship with her daughter.
Suffer the Little Children teaches life lessons, such as this one: “If you’re willing to have something new come about, you must be equally willing to let go of how it’s been.”
It also shows that the natural world provides a map for leading fulfilling lives.
Ms. Carson’s descriptions are vivid enough for me to imagine Anne’s home and the massive bush of Alberta. The lure of nature leads the characters to the answers for all the questions lying within their hearts.
If you love multi-faceted plots with a majestic landscape providing a backdrop for the characters, then you will love Suffer the Little Children. You might even learn a little bit about living a sustainable and simple life filled with the only thing that matters: love.”