Jen's Reviews > The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
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Apr 27, 09

bookshelves: fill-in-the-gaps, classics, southern-lit
Read in April, 2009

Let me just say up-front that I read McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter when I was in 10th grade, for English class with the best English teacher I had ever, including in college. And I loved it. With all of my heart. I've read that book over and over, and I even wrote a curriculum unit on it when I was in college for secondary education. Interestingly, I haven't read that many of her other books. I got The Member of the Wedding for free off of BookMooch, and I decided to do this crazy Fill-In-the-Gaps Project around the same time, so I put the book on my list and knew I'd read it soon.

I read this book almost entirely on the plane to San Diego. I was about 30 pages in when I got on the plane, and it was over 2 or 3 hours before I landed in CA. It's good to know her writing is always amazing. I adored this book. It's sad and touching and nostalgic and beautiful. Frankie (aka F. Jasmine) is a rough-and-tumble tomboy just entering puberty and feeling desperately alone. Her best friend has moved away, her other friends have all turned into teenagers and she's not ready to do that, her dad works all the time. She spends most of her summer with her dad's cook/maid and her six-year-old cousin. When her brother comes home from the military and brings his new bride-to-be to visit, she falls in love with them because they belong to each other. And she decides that she belongs with them to, that she'll finally not be lonely any more when she goes to their wedding and they will of course take her with them after they're married.

Ninety percent of this book takes place the week before the wedding happens. Not a lot happens as far as action, but a lot happens in Frankie during this week. Her decision to grow up and to belong somewhere, and the actions she takes to make it happen, and her anticipation of the wedding are all so true emotionally, it's hard for me to believe that this could have been written by a grown-up and not by an 11-year-old. And then her utter heartbreak when her brother and his bride leave the wedding without her, and her determination to run away from home are stunning. It's such a simple tale, a child's story of the last vestiges of her childhood being stripped away from her. But it's just so real. And that is McCullers' true talent in all of her books I've read. She puts you through the same emotional paces as her characters, and you come up from the book gasping for air. I can't think of another writer who does this as viscerally, at least for me.
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Gill Only one niggle, Frankie falls in love with the bride and groom (idea) well before they arrive home. Had she waited until they came home, she probably would not have, as they disappointed her by a rushed visit with no time or opportunity for her to talk to them.
I do like your concluding paragraph, and conclusions.


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