Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Great Unexpected” as Want to Read:
The Great Unexpected
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Great Unexpected

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,871 Ratings  ·  551 Reviews
Humorous and heartfelt, this is a story of pairs— of Sybil and Nula (sisters who grew up together in Rook’s Orchard, Ireland) and Naomi and Lizzie (both orphans in present day Blackbird Tree, USA)
and unraveling mysteries about family and identity. Naomi and Lizzie’s tragedies turn into a life filled with hope, as old misunderstandings and sorrows between Sybil and Nula gi
Published 2012
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Great Unexpected, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Helen Maleeny Finn is the boy that the main character really likes. He is from Ireland, and likes to call the main character "tree girl".
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
27th out of 113 books — 1,213 voters
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul CurtisThe Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanAlanna by Tamora PierceHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Best Reads for Tweens
70th out of 92 books — 39 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 12, 2012 Cornmaven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
One word for my reaction to this book: Meh. I was not bowled over by the tale, I think because I felt Creech tried to include far too many elements - fairies, Irish humor, strange degrees of separation, belonging, coming of age. The alternating back and forth between the characters and setting in Ireland, and those in America was kind of confusing too me, and I think it would be so for young readers, especially as the Irish chapters were an approximationg of brogue sometimes. When Creech finally ...more
Rashika (is tired)
As gorgeous as this book was, I felt let down. Sharon Creech is one of my favorite childhood authors and I’ve been wanting to read this book forever, since it came out to be precise. I remember the excitement I felt when I found out Sharon Creech had a new book out. I added it to my Goodreads, to-read list but like the case with a lot of other books that I placed on the list, it found it’s way to a place on the list that I don’t often check.

When I finally got my hands on the book, I was excited
Naomi and Lizzie, both orphans, have lived in Blackbird tree their whole lives with the kindly families that have taken them in. They are merely minding their own business one day when a boy falls out of a tree one day and knocks Naomi to the ground. At first they are sure he is dead, but then he gets up and introduces himself as Finn. They've never seen him before, and strangers don't come to Blackbird Tree often. Shortly after Finn's arrival another stranger comes to town and seems to be lurki ...more
Barb Middleton
Jan 12, 2013 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism
I work with a Lizzie-type person. She doesn't take a breath, rattling through conversations like an auctioneer. Sometimes I want to make the timeout sign with my hands, other times I marvel at her yapping tongue. Lizzie Scatterding is Naomi Deane's best friend who has a good heart, is melodramatic, and can be annoyingly talkative. Both girls are orphans living in the town of Blackbird Tree and their relationship and dialogue is one of the great strengths of this novel. Dizzy Lizzy repeats everyt ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful book that I read in one sitting. Sharon Creech has done it again with this beautifully written and lyrical story. It is warm, witty, full of memorable and eccentric characters, secrets and coincidences, hidden meaning and life lessons for our children. As you begin to put the pieces of the puzzle of the story together it will remind you that we are all connected by that invisible thread and the actions of one many times affect the lives of others.

Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatt
Some of Sharon Creech's books are among my favorites, especially Walk Two Moons, but this one won't be.

The thing that most puzzles me about why this book didn't grab me is that one of the difficulties I had with the book was that I couldn't keep Lizzie and Naomi straight in my mind. This should NOT have been a problem, since Lizzie was the talker and Naomi was the dreamer. I think part of the problem is that Lizzie, the talker, wasn't the narrator of the book. So you end up with Naomi, the dream
Oct 14, 2014 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
What an unexpected delight! (See what I did there? ;) I found the audiobook at a library sale and snatched it up because Natalie had exclaimed over it (and she has yet to steer me wrong). Believe me when I say that this is an excellent middle grade novel. Ms. Creech takes a vast array of seemingly unconnectable characters and then gives hints little by little (keeping you turning pages or continuing to listen so you can find out what happens next) until there's an invisible thread connecting the ...more
Jul 28, 2012 Charlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grades 4 and up
(Reviewed ARC) Remember the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: it is alive and well in this book, but Kevin Bacon is never mentioned. No, it's the idea of connectedness, here, although you don't realize that until later. At first, it's just the story of two orphans, Naomi and Lizzie, their lives and how their lives are changed after the boy Finn falls out of tree. The girls and their guardians live in the town of Blackbird Tree; across the sea in Ireland, another story is being played out at Rook ...more
Debra McCracken
I find I agree with other readers--I wanted to like it, and I found parts of it very charming and funny. But the story did not hold together, and I had a hard time imagining how a middle-school reader could ever figure it out. The boy Finn's role was left unfinished; it was hard to figure out in what time period it was supposed to be written; and Lizzie was just a little too odd for my tastes. The concept of connectedness was a great premise, but it played out a little too amorphously.
I did like
Linda Lipko
This is yet another insightful, wonderful book by Sharon Creech.
Mentioned as a potential Newbery award winner for 2013, I hope Creech is successful in garnering her third Newbery award.

I loved Walk Two Moons, a Newbery medal winner in 1995. She won a Newbery honor in 2001 for The Wanderer.

The setting of The Great Unexpected is a teeny, tiny, hamlet of Blackbird Tree. Naomi and Lizzie are good friends, both are orphans. Many in the town of Blackbird face difficult lives. In fact, one new teacher
I spent the majority of this book simultaneously confused and delighted. I was spellbound by the rich world, the spunky orphan girl at the center of the story, her best friend, the rest of the colorful cast of characters, and the fabulously wicked and seemingly unrelated snippets of life with Pilpenny and Sybil. Slowly, as if groping in the dark and feeling the outlines of objects, the story's plot came together for me, but always with a firm sense that I was missing something. Fortunately, the ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2012 Courtney rated it it was amazing
This review is from my blog, Studies in Storytelling. http://studiesinstorytelling.blogspot...

I read this book in one sitting, and it was a complete delight. I say this as a 21-year-old college senior unaccustomed to reading Middle Grade. It releases September 4, 2012.

The twelve-year-old, neurotic Naomi has a violent past and a childlike perspective, but a refreshingly sophisticated voice. Her sarcasm and levelheadedness contrast her friend Lizzie Scatterdinghead’s innocent, tactful chatterboxi
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I want more books like this one. A book that is beautifully written, has quirky characters, humor, mystery/adventure, makes you care what happens, and even has sad parts. Sharon Creech has done it again. If the Newbery committee overlooks this book I might cry. Can't wait to share this book with kids this fall.

When I was in the sixth grade my teacher recommended that I read Walk Two Moons and it changed my life. It was one of those books that tore through my soul and combusted the world into a brand new place. As a 12-year old, I think it finally helped me to start seeing "the bigger picture." I loved everything about that book and read it several more times through junior high and high school.

Naturally, I decided that I had to read everything else by Sharon Creech and I fell in love with her writing
Ms. Yingling
The town of Blackbird Tree has more than its fair share of orphans and old people. Naomi lives with Nula and Joe, her mother having passed away shortly after her birth, and her father dying of an infection after a dog attack that also disfigured Naomi's arm. Her friend Lizzie lives with a couple she hopes will adopt her. The two makes friends with Finn, an unusual boy who also has a mysterious past. While the children in Blackbird Tree are hanging out, helping the strange and elderly (Crazy Cora ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, tween-novel
Darn! Frustration! Damnation!

I really liked this book (or to put it more truthfully, I liked the IDEA of this book) and I wanted it to flow SO much better than it actually did. It is a sometimes charming and very funny tale about two young ladies who are orphans and live in what appears to be some sort of timeless village called Blackbird Tree in the U.S. An Irish boy turns up one day and starts turning their lives and thoughts around. Through an insane series of events, told in alternating chap
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wandering Librarians
Naomi and Lizzie, two orphan girls living in Blackbird Tree, are minding their own business when a boy falls out of a tree at their feet. Once Finn shows up, things become very strange. The mysterious Dingle Dangle man comes to town for an unknown purpose, and things begin changing, fast, and Naomi isn't sure if it's for the better. She begins to see the strange connections between people, even people far across the sea in Ireland.

I love Sharon Creech. I grew up reading Walk Two Moons and Chasin
Aug 13, 2012 Samuel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
The Great Unexpected is one of those books that defies a plot summary. It's centered around two orphan girls, Naomi Deane and Lizzie Scatterding, who live in the small town of Blackbird Tree, but the story incorporates a vast number of other characters, and reaches far past the town limits. There are plots, and sub-plots, and it's the way that they intertwine that forms the heart of the book.

Indeed, it would probably be 500 pages, rather than 225, if it explained all of the details of each subpl
Nov 13, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing book--I enjoyed it very much and read it quickly. I don't think I quite grasped everything, but it seems well worth a reread. I loved the hints at adolescent angst (not written in an ANGSTY way, but a real way), and the characters, and the setting--the Irish setting was perhaps better defined than the American setting, but that might have been done purposefully. I love the way the story slips in and out of the real world.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a little Irish folklore mix
Taylor ~уσυ ¢αи ∂яαg мє тhяσυgh hєℓℓ ιf ιт мєαит ι ¢αи hσℓ∂ уσυя hαи∂, ι ωιℓℓ fσℓℓσω уσυ, '¢αυѕє ι'м υи∂єя уσυя ѕρєℓℓ~
I was in the airport when I got this book. I wanted something to read on the plane over, and found this small book. It was strange, I gotta say, but I *liked it. Didn't love it, but liked.
May 26, 2013 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, children-s
Creech gives us wonderful quirky, imaginative characters in this middle-reader fairy tale that addresses gender inequity and the reality of good fairy tales and bad ones. How shall we know the difference and attend to rectifying the wrong of the bad fairy tales? How shall we live with ordinary magic - love, acceptance, courage, wonder, and imagination - in our lives where unexpected events are to be expected? When to welcome such events and when are we to be wary of them? Creech's usual attentio ...more
"Lizzie said that if you imagined you were standing on the moon, looking down on the earth, you wouldn't be able to see the itty-bitty people racing around worrying; you wouldn't see the barn falling in or the cow stuck in the pond; you wouldn't see the mean Granger kids squirting mustard on your white dress. You would see the most beautiful blue oceans and green lands, and the whole earth would look like a giant blue-and-green marble floating in the sky. Your worries would seem so small, maybe ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
From Newbery Medal winner and bestselling author Sharon Creech comes a grand, sweeping yarn that is a celebration of the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness. With a starred review from Kirkus Reviews calling it an "enchanting tale to treasure," The Great Unexpected captures the heart and the imagination.

Humorous and heartfelt, this is a story of pairs—of young Naomi and Lizzie, both orphans in present-day Blackbird Tree, USA, and of Sybil and Nula, grown-up sisters fr
I've been recommending Ruby Holler to students this past school year. Some loved it, others didn't. To those who loved it (as I did), I would recommend "The Great Unexpected. As in Ruby Holler, we meet two orphaned misfits who ultimately get the rewards they deserve. The Great Unexpected has a touch of magic and a touch of Irish folklore that brings this novel just to the edge of fantasy, but it does not take over the story. I definitely enjoyed it. However, I do agree with with SLJ that the nar ...more
Vicki Sherbert
Aug 08, 2012 Vicki Sherbert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade-lit
This story was filled with great, unexpected things. Friendship, family, forgiveness, and restoration all blend together throughout situations that seem impossible. As two young friends experience both hard and good times, Naomi reflects, "I realized that was one difference between me and Lizzie. I didn't want to know everything that was already known; I wanted to leave room for possibilities." What a great thought to pass along to my middle school students: Leave room for possibilities.
Jul 16, 2014 Madeleine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-fiction
Review posted at

Naomi has experienced more than her fair share of tragedy. Her mother passed away from a disease and her father died as a result of a dog attack that also left Naomi's arm mangled. After the accident, Naomi was taken in by an older couple who raised her as their own, and in their care she's grown to love her surroundings, even her talkative and at times, overwhelmingly dramatic, best friend,
Lizzie. One day, Naomi and Lizzie witness a strange boy fall
Gina (My Precious Blog)
Aug 08, 2012 Gina (My Precious Blog) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
This was a solid MG read. The only reason I didn't give it FIVE stars was because it was quite confusing in the manor it was written. I enjoyed the messages and sweetness of the story though. Its definitely one which will warm your heart. The characters were rich and well developed. The writing style beautiful. Full Review to Come... (Closer to Review DATE)

The My Precious Blog
Victoria Whipple
Creech spins a tale that that includes enough fairy magic to keep not only the characters in the story, but the reader wondering if the events are coincidence, contrived, or influenced by magic. The main characters of the story are best friends Naomi and Lizzie. Both girls are being raised by foster parents. One day the girls meet a new boy in town. His sudden and unexplained appearance is shortly followed by the Dingle Dangle man--coincidence? The girls are realistically protrayed, and Naomi's ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • On the Road to Mr. Mineo's
  • Kepler's Dream
  • Summer of the Gypsy Moths
  • One Year in Coal Harbor (Coal Harbour #2)
  • Twelve Kinds of Ice
  • Marty McGuire Digs Worms!
  • The Templeton Twins Have an Idea (Templeton Twins, #1)
  • The Second Life of Abigail Walker
  • Kindred Souls
  • Laugh with the Moon
  • The Center of Everything
  • The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook
  • A Dog Called Homeless
  • Double Dog Dare
  •  The Water Castle
  • The Year of the Book
  • The Giant and How He Humbugged America
  • Splendors and Glooms
I was born in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up there with my noisy and rowdy family: my parents (Ann and Arvel), my sister (Sandy), and my three brothers (Dennis, Doug and Tom).
For a fictional view of what it was like growing up in my family, see Absolutely Normal Chaos. (In that book, the brothers even have the same names as my own brothers.) Our house was not only full of
More about Sharon Creech...

Share This Book

“A driver had been sent to meet us. He was gray-haired, short, and nimble and introduced himself. "I am Patrick and so is every fourth man in Ireland, and the ones in between are named Sean or Mick or Finn, and I'll be driving you.” 5 likes
“I wondered If things that might seem frightening could lose their hold over you. I wondered If we find the people we need when we need them. I wondered If we attract our future by some sort of invisible force, or If we are drawn to it by a similar force. I felt I was turning a corner and that change was afoot.” 4 likes
More quotes…