Saturday, May 17, 2008

Getting Cloudy

ARGH! I had leader blather and it got eaten. :( I have no idea what it said, so it obviously was not important...

Calder Game Blue Balliet

In this follow up to Chasing Vermeer and Wright 3 the kids are focusing on Alexander Calder, who is who Calder just happens to be named after.

Calder and his dad also go off to England while his dad's at a conference. There, they stay in this quaint little English village where there's something a little sinister going on. An anonymous American has donated an Alexander Calder statue to the town. They don't like change. They don't like outsiders.

One day, the statue goes missing. As does Calder.

Calder's dad realizes he doesn't really know in-depth what his son was up to these days, so he has Petra and Tommy fly out to help look...

I was pretty disappointed. I loved the earlier books but... Really, the whole closed off English village thing? It was very Hot Fuzz, but without being a spoof of itself.

Also, the townspeople didn't like the Chicago kids because they were American. But not one mentioned that Calder is part Asian Indian, Petra is partially Middle Eastern and Tommy is half Hispanic. Had the townspeople been shunning of outsiders, the fact that they were non-white outsiders (especially, I think, Calder's Asian Indian heritage) would have come up. In a really nasty way. But, it didn't.

This book was really scary and I liked that, but the explanation and the end were... weak. When I read the end I was like, wait... we spent all the time and energy and tension to work up to... that? Really?

It contains all of the awesome elements of the previous books, but doesn't pull the mystery off with the same skill as the others.

Homefront Doris Gwaltney

Sara recommended this one to me yonks ago. Yesterday I read it in one sitting.

Margaret Ann lives on a farm with her family in Virginia. Due to the fighting in Europe, her estranged aunt, Mary Lee and daughter Courtney are coming to live with them. Courtney is beautiful and smart and everyone loves her. But she's also stuck up and smug. At least to Margaret Ann. Of course Bobby Holland likes Courtney better. Of course Courtney now gets to sit next to Daddy at dinner.

But then, things get worse after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Her sister Elizabeth drops out of college to marry Tommy Gray before he enlists. Margaret Ann's older brother enlists. All the young men in her life are off to war.

I loved this book. I love how the chapters are named after where Margaret Ann is sleeping. In the beginning, she shares a room with her grandmother and is really excited to move into Elizabeth's room when she goes off to college. Then, less than a month in her own room, Aunt Mary Lee and Courtney move in, so she's back with grandma. When Johnny enlists, he lets Margaret Ann have his room, which makes her feel like he enlisted just so she could have her own room.

Margaret Ann doesn't cut Courtney a lot of slack and blames her for a lot of things that aren't her fault. At the same time, Courtney isn't completely innocent and I completely recognize Margaret Ann's feelings that everyone thinks Courtney is perfect. Both characters were flawed, but in that way that makes them really real. Also, I liked how realistic the inevitable thawing in their relationship was. A great recommendation. Thanks Sara!

1 comment:

Sara said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. I don't read much historical fiction, but this one was filled with outstanding characters that I adored.

And yes, the naming of the chapters by where she was sleeping at the time really added to the reader's sense of how displaced Margaret Ann felt. A good story, solid history, and it made me laugh so many times. I really empathized with both M.A. and the too-perfect Courtney.