Sunday, August 18, 2013

Better to Wish by Ann Martin

Cover image for Better to wishIn 1930 Abby's life seems pretty perfect. She lives with her sister and mother near the beach in main. They are not rich, but they are happy in their little cottage.  Then things begin to change. Abby's father gets a great contract for his carpentry business, and it begins to do well.  He moves the family into a big fancy house in town, and they welcome a new baby boy to the family.  Little Fred has developmental problems, and Abby's mother gradually sinks into debilitating depression. As Abby's mother withers and her father becomes more harsh and demanding, Abby steps up and becomes a mother figure to the younger children. The older she gets the more she wonders how long she can be there for her siblings, and endure living under her father's thumb.

Those who were little girls in the 80's and 90's probably read, or heard about the "Babysitter's Club" series. There was a time when we couldn't keep it on the shelf at the library.  While that series was lighthearted and simplistic, this new series by Martin is more melancholy.  It has its light moments, but the overall mood is somber and philosophical. I enjoyed the book because the story rang true to me.  It feels like a story a grandmother would tell of life, seen through the filter of age and wisdom. The thing is, I am not sure the children would appreciate the story. They would be looking at it from the wrong direction: forward instead of back.  No one wants to imagine a future life with so much loss and heartache.(226 p)

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