Sunday, March 20, 2011

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant

Why do we feel that kids are so resilient and that change is so much easier for them because they know so little about life? Cynthia Rylant’s, Missing May, truly opens the reader’s mind to the ever changing and difficult life that a young child experiences.
Six year old, Summer, was an orphan. She was passed from one relative to the next until her Aunt May and Uncle Ob receive her. Summer, who is now twelve years old, has found unconditional love with her aunt and uncle but this happiness soon turns to grief when her Aunt May dies. Not only does Summer have to deal with her own feelings, but this loss deeply affects her Uncle Ob and Summer is left to help him through this terrible loss. “And I think Ob’s going to die, truly die, if I can’t figure a way to mend his sorry broken heart.”
When the thought of possibly connecting with Aunt May spirit enters Uncle Ob’s mind, Summer is willing to make whatever effort possible to help her uncle have peace. With the help of Summer’s school friend, Cletus (who suffered a near-death experience – and Ob thinks he may be able to help him communicate with his wife), they take a journey to West Virginia to find the spiritualism that will bring Summer and Ob closer to May. Although this journey doesn’t bring help them to their intended “goal,” it did provide them with a lifetime of fulfilling lessons. Summer becomes proud of her state after seeing the gold-domed capitol, Charleston. She learns more about herself, and Ob finds himself thinking about those around him that are alive and who need him. The three return home.
Because Summer never had a chance to fully grieve for the loss of her much loved aunt, something inside of her is triggered when she sees and owl flying above her. Summer remembers her aunt and breaks down and cries for the first time.
Summer’s thoughts and feelings throughout this book left me, the reader, feeling helpless. I wanted to help. This was a clever book that kept you reflecting on information that was provided to the reader early on (flashback).
I also enjoyed reading more about Appalachia and the significance to Cynthia Rylant’s upbringing and her childhood experiences that played a major role in her writings.


  1. It really is hard to imagine what Summer must have been feeling. It is amazing how much strength we as humans can muster up in a time of need. However, we also need to be able to let it all out and know that everything is going to be OK. Summer was incredibly strong to try to step up and hold everything together. After all, she was only twelve years old. I was pleased with the end knowing that they both were healing and they were going to make it together.

  2. I too was pleased with the ending. Ob seemed to realize that he had a responsibility to Summer and that she needed him as much as he needed her. Rylant does make you want to help in the story, but she also makes one realize that there really isn't any other way to help other than to be there for the person in need.