Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2 Young Adult Reads

Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder

Cassieopeia Brittman has parented her mother Anne for most of her childhood, which was spent wandering the U.S. barely one step above homelessness. Finally Cassie and Anne have settled into a small university city south of Anne's (and Cassie's) birthplace, a small farm. After promising Cassie she'd spend her student years single and unattached, Anne brings Gunnar the Swedish Viking filmmaker home one morning. Poppie Brittman (Anne's father), a reclusive and eccentric (Aren't they always?) but extrememly talented painter is in ICU in the local communtiy hopsital. Anne and Cassie must drop everything to return to the small rural community Anne fled when Cassie was very small. All is not what it seems, though. Who is Melvin Steiger, really? Why does everyone in town like him when it is immediately obvious he's not helped Poppie around the property as he ought to have? Who is the mysterious fiddler who rescues Cassie more than once and how could he possibly be in a photo of Cassie's grandparents when Poppie was a babe?

This novel reminds me strongly of Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip (my thoughts on Ms. McKillip's book in the title link). Less intense & less layered perhaps, but they both resonate. Excellent book. Plan to hunt up Ms. Snyder's other works at the library. Published by Viking in 2002.

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins

A detailed, finely nuanced coming of age tale set in India and California. The Gardner family, most often of Berkeley CA has arranged to spend the summer in India doing various charity projects in the orphanage that raised Sarah Gardner to age 4. Sarah's daughter Jasmine is unhappy about the change of summer scenery, primarily because she's fallen in love with her best friend and business partner Steve Morales- who is being preyed upon by practically every girl that matters at their local school. Jazz would prefer to spend the summer at home & keep Steve safe. Of course, being 15, actually getting up the courage to tell him how she feels is impossible. India is wonderful and scary and interesting and overwhelming all at once. Each member of Jazz's family is compelled to change and grow before the end of summer and the long long flight to CA.

MS really kindled a desire to learn how to make yummy authentic Indian curries, made me reflect on the beautiful Indian women in our area- their saris and gold jewellry & how very feminine they look. Jazz suffers from many of the typical female pychological issues: low self esteem, poor body image, emotional honesty, etc, but what really touched me is Ms. Perkins' portrayal of a girl trying to wall herself into a protective cocoon and the country that helps her gain inner strength and courage.

Definitely planning to look up other works by Ms. Perkins. This title like others she's written are aimed at young adult readers.

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