Norma Johnston’s The Keeping Days series: The Keeping Days, Glory in the Flower, The Sanctuary Tree, A Mustard Seed of Magic, A Nice Girl Like You and Myself and I. “It’s the turn of the century — the year 1900! And Tish Sterling wants to be a writer. She thinks she’s qualified because she loves to write and she “feels things deeply.” The first four books portray life at the turn of the century; they also deal with issues such as prejudice, fear, family, friendship, belief, and love. But most importantly, they deal with Tish becoming a writer. It’s not easy – dreamy write in your diary writer writing; Tish has to work at it. Part of the glory of these books is Tish resisting the idea that writing is a craft, requiring discipline. These books show Tish growing as an artist, with all that being an artist means. The first four books cover a two year period. The last two jump forward to the start of World War I; the main characters are those who were born in the first four. In these last two, we see the artist that Tish has become. The last two are also about secrets and honesty (as well as topical issues such as war and women’s rights).”
Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson: “This is an honest and sensitive look at a teenage girl’s struggle between passivity and action, between defining herself based on others and defining herself based on self. At times, it is an uncomfortable read because Jacobson is brutally truthful in her depiction of a teenager who is struggling with issues of self, of shame, of faith, of love.” For those following along my flashbacks at home, you’ll see that by now my using “the plot” and “the good” has become my standard. Also, it was thinks to a suggestion in the comments from Kelly (a cofounder of the Cybils) that I began keeping all my bests/favorites in one sidebar.
Annie, Between The States by L.M. Elliott: “This book starts right after the beginning of the Civil War, and ends just before the war ends. All the officers, all the battles, and other historical information is factual. As the war goes on, Annie finds strength she didn’t know she had. She also is forced to rethink assumptions, especially assumptions about the “servants” in her house. Elliott doesn’t let the North off the hook: she shows that the Union and its soldiers were not free from prejudice. Elliott also shows that the 19th century had many different prejudices, including ethnic and religious prejudice; much is made about Annie’s father “marrying down” when he wed an Irish Catholic.”
Confessions of a Closet Catholic is Sarah Darer Littman: “A book that treats religion, faith, questioning and belonging with respect, sympathy, honesty and humor. CoaCC weaves together 3 different threads: a search for the spiritual; the appeal of a different family; and the bonds of family.”
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston: “Are the children of Green Knowe real? Are they ghosts? Or are they imaginations, indulged by a Granny who sees that Tolly needs a sense of connection that Green Knowe and its children give him? This is not so much a book about ghosts as a book about the imagination of a child.”