Sunday, March 30, 2014

Boston Jane: The Claim

This follows Jane Peck in her adventures in Oregon, her new home. Without revealing too much about the first book, Jane has become comfortable in her new life, being a practical and helpful woman in the community. All that is shaken to her roots when her old bully Sallie Biddle comes to town and belittles her and her way of life and slowly, piece by piece, starts taking away all that is important to Jane. This is a good book for girls, especially middle school girls, because there is a lot about social pressures and norms and how awful people can make you feel. It can be the beginning of some interesting conversations. 

Ages 9-13

Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer Holm

In Philadephia in about 1840, Jane Peck lost her mother when she was very young and is raised by her father, a loving, fun father and talented surgeon. He lets her run wild in the streets with the boys and has her assist him in his work at times and thus she grows up to about age 11 when she discovers she’s not like other girls. This mostly happens because of another girl her age, Sallie Biddle, but also because of a dreamy apprentice of her fathers’, William. The two of them manage to convince poor Jane Peck that she needs to go to finishing school and become a true lady. Her father allows her to go, despite his reservations that it will empty her mind and make her a useless human. Jane is swept up in the rules and regulations of becoming a true Lady and tries, in vain, to gain the respect of Sallie Biddle, who teases her relentlessly. Then William leaves to go off the the frontiers of Oregon to become a timber trader, despite Jane’s father’s objections that it is a lot of work and a waste of his doctor talents. Jane is distressed by William’s departure but is somewhat placated by their written correspondence. After a time, William proposes to Jane and Jane, after pleading with her father, eventually ventures out west, beginning a journey that not only sees Jane vacillate between the new “lady” side of her and the more practical, strong and stubborn side of her but also produces a great deal of heartache, danger and sickness, that eventually will end in triumph. A well written book with strong character development

Ages 9-13

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

Sarah Newton lives with her father and they have a secret they hid from their community. Jane Newton, Sarah’s mom, tried to drown both Sarah and her twin brother. Only Sarah survived but her mother was put in a mental hospital and her father was accused of neglect but eventually exonerated. It was a huge story and when people figure out who they are, they feel like they have to move to a new community. Her father has had a hard time moving on past the whole incident and drinks at times to get through, even though he knows he should not. Sarah, at times, must take care of him, instead of the other way around. In the midst of all this, Sarah is just trying to be a normal girl and she has normal day to day problems. It’s the end of sixth grade and she is afraid she’ll be shipped off to live with her grandparents for the summer for a summer of perpetual boredom.  Instead she is allowed to stay and spends her days with her neighbor Charlotte and Charlotte’s younger brother, Finn. Through this summer, Sarah learns about love through her first crush, Finn, and about heartbreak through her neighbor Mrs. Dupree whose husband passes away and about forgiveness through her parents. It’s an interesting book but a bit full of cliches and the voice is in the present tense, which was weird to read. 
Ages 9-13