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Declan O’Brien was a man of few words, but the ones that he spoke were important. His saying, “It’s the eternal fitness of things,” and his favorite song, “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Grant Us Peace), become especially meaningful     to his wife and children, Fiona and Finn, when he is killed in a tragic accident.

In this sensitive, perceptive novel for juvenile readers, 10-year-old Fiona narrates her family’s struggle to process their grief and disorientation. She’s especially worried about her younger brother, Finn. When Fiona’s next-door neighbor and friend, Luke, realizes that Fiona is trying to help her brother, he tells her about the need for volunteers at an animal shelter. She follows up on his suggestion.

Fiona is delighted when Finn takes to Emma, a dog whose owner died and who repeatedly rebuffs the attention of staff and other volunteers. Over a period of time, Finn reads to Emma and sings “Dona Nobis Pacem” to the hurting creature; slowly he wins her over.

When Finn helps Emma find her true home, Fiona realizes that her brother is beginning to heal from his grief. She is surprised to receive her own gift of inner restoration and an unexpected present.

Author Patricia MacLachlan reveals the power of collecting and celebrating memories. She also shows how kind and generous words spoken by the ones we love can offer consolation and hope after their deaths.

Christian parents who read this novel with their children can point them to the hope of eternal life—beginning now!—that all God’s children can cling to in times of tragedy and pain. (Katherine Tegen Books)

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