Sally’s Rating: 3.5/5
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson is a sugary Christmas tale about a grumpy old hobo and the homeless children who warm his cold and bitter heart.
This is an optimistic story about finding the best in yourself and others. Armand is a homeless man who lives under a bridge in Paris. One day, he finds three little kids playing there, after being abandoned by their mother who had to work during the day. Armand is initially irritated with the kids and only sees them as a way to help him with panhandling, but he eventually is won over by their resilience and becomes part of their family by helping them find a home.
The setting takes place in Paris, which gives the story a bit of a fairy tale-esque vibe. The children themselves are selfless, and only want a home for the holidays. Their hope and optimism really shines throughout the book despite the horrible situation they’ve grown up with.
The book does a great job of tackling the idea of why someone would want to live a life of homelessness. Armand happily lives his life and sleeps under a bridge each night because he enjoys the freedom that being a hobo brings to him. As he develops a friendship with the children, he slowly becomes torn between his desire for a solitary life and his feeling of responsibility towards the children.
I’d definitely recommend this book as a family reading activity for parents and children who want to get into the Christmas mood.