Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Michael Czyzniejewski


The following thesis is a middle grade novel exploring the events of one summer in the lives of two siblings, Susannah and Sawyer. The siblings are grieving the recent death of their mother and, at the same time, attempting to navigate the emotional withdrawal of their father. During the summer, the siblings get to know their eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Blackbird, who communicates with the spirit of her dead husband through an old armchair which is rumored to have magical powers. The novel deals primarily with the theme of grief and its pervasive nature in people’s lives. The story looks at how community and the practice of storytelling can help people in processing the pain of devastating loss.


middle grade, grief, family, storytelling, loss, magical realism, siblings, spirituality

Subject Categories

Creative Writing | English Language and Literature


© Taylor Barnhart

Open Access