The Crane Husband” by Kelly Regan Barnhill

Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian

Things haven’t been the same since her father died. But the 15-year-old narrator is doing her best to run the household, her mother’s artistic sales and care for her 6-year-old brother. But her mom hasn’t woven any new pieces since that 6-foot tall crane came into their lives, and food is starting to run dangerously low. 

Magical realism provides an interesting lens to view this stark and disturbing tale set on a Midwestern farm of the future. Just as a teen and child would find the idea of their mother falling in love with and inviting an abusive man into their home absurd (why would a mother put a stranger’s needs and wants in front of theirs?) having that man transform nightly into a crane illustrates that disconnect well. How could anyone love and stay with a monster?

This novella will stay with you long after you turn the final page.