About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More quickies

Also recently finished 2 young adult books of note.

I read Cynthia Voight's Homecoming (New York: Athenium, 1981) with Littlehazel; finished it a week ago. Wow. Homecoming is the first book in Voight's seven-volume Tillerman cycle, and I can't believe I never came across the books before. It tells the story of four siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 6, who are abandoned in the parking lot of a shopping mall on the Rhode Island-Connecticut border by their poor and emotionally fragile mother. Their father walked out of their lives before the youngest child's birth, and they know no other friends or relatives to turn to, so Dicey, the eldest (with some input from brainy, 10 year old James), decides their only option is to walk to Bridgeport, where their mother had been taking them, in search of an elderly aunt they've never met. Book One follows their journey; Book Two chronicles what happens after they arrive, only to find Aunt Cilla dead, and her daughter, cousin Eunice, not quite what they'd expected.

Interesting to read this while Littlehazel's class was doing a project on survival stories. We've read Island of the Blue Dolphins and Julie of the Wolves, but a tale of survival in a mostly contemporary setting (cheaper food and fewer restrictions on unaccompanied kids notwithstanding) is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. We're partway through the sequel, Dicey's Song, as I speak. An excellent parent-and-child or teacher-and-student read-aloud (or read-together).

The second YA book was Here's to You, Rachel Robinson, by Judy Blume (New York: Orchard Books, 1993) -- and OK, I can't blame this on my daughter; this one was just me. Like most girls of a certain age, I loved Judy Blume's books as a grade-schooler, and can't resist picking 'em up when I stumble on them now -- especially ones like this that were published long after I'd outgrown the genre. This is a sequel to Just as Long as We're Together, which Littlehazel owns, and which both of us have read. Here, though, the protagonist isn't Stephanie, but her gifted best friend Rachel, who, in seventh grade, has more than enough on her plate. Older brother Charles has been kicked out of boarding school and seems to delight in making the family's life hell. And frankly, between mom's pending judicial appointment, big sister Jessica's cystic-acne-and-prom troubles, and cousin Tarren's single parenthood, there's not much room for Rachel to be anything less than perfect. Stephanie and Allison, the new girl from Just as Long, seem to spend more time together and have more in common than Rachel does with either of them. And if that's not enough, her teachers and friends are pushing her to join yet more school activities, from natural helpers to class president to ... argh! It's enough to make you want to scream. In short, Blume does indeed still have it, writing for grade schoolers and tweens in a way that's realistic without being preachy.

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