Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Some relish of the saltiness of time

After a few of Sharon Creech's books for young adults that weren't exactly my cup of tea, I finally read two back-to-back that were!

Bloomability is the story of a girl who never had a "real" home due to her parents' nomadic life. Dinnie, the main character, grows up poor;  after her sister becomes a teenage mother and her brother winds up in jail, her aunt and uncle whisk her off for a year at a boarding school in Switzerland. (Parent Trap flashbacks, anyone?) It's a cute tale about studying abroad, making new friends, dealing with homesickness, and fitting personal experiences into a larger global framework.  The end of the book is unresolved: Dinnie returns to America for the summer, and she hasn't decided yet if she'll stay or not.  Though the book is really about tweenhood and identity, I couldn't help but see it through the lens of educational opportunity: DUH, she should return to Switzerland!

There's also an avalanche scene in the book, which 1) reminded me of this incredibly written but scary NYT piece on the avalanche at nearby Stevens Pass last year; and 2) started to freak me out about avalanches while I'm out snowshoeing.

Chasing Redbird was a bittersweet story about another tween, the middle child of a rather large family. She spends a summer clearing an old trail behind her family's property in the Appalachians. By re-building the trail, she comes to terms with several deaths in her family.

The thing I do like about Creech's protagonists is that they don't come from "perfect" homes; they are generally from struggling or non-traditional families or rural areas, and there is usually some event (birth or death or illness or separation) that provides the catalyst for the angst and apprehensions of her young characters. Though her stories must be wonderful for young readers who can relate to their growing-up themes, her characters are sometimes wiser than many real-life adults who have yet to encounter hardships.

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