Abby Johnson's Reviews > The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
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's review
Jun 08, 2009

really liked it
Read in April, 2015

It's the summer of 1899 when Calpurnia Tate stumbles upon the natural world and joins her gruff grandfather in collecting specimens and learning all there is to know about the world around her. Unfortunately, 11-year old Callie Vee (as her many brothers call her) isn't expected to be a scientist; she's expected to learn tatting and cooking and grow up to be somebody's wife. But what if that's not what she wants?

I really expected to like this book more than I did. I did like the beginning and the end, but the middle dragged for me. The writing is beautiful and the setting (Texas in 1899) is interesting - it's my favorite time period to read about - but I felt like the whole thing was just too long. And this is incredibly unfair, but the whole time I was reading, I was comparing it to A Northern Light, which is about a 16-year-old New York girl wanting to go to college in 1906. If Mattie met Calpurnia, I'm pretty sure she would shake her until her teeth rattled.

-- Update April 2015: I listened to this on audio in preparation for the sequel coming out this summer and I think I appreciated the story a little more on reread. It is loosely plotted and that's not everyone's cup of tea, but I really appreciated how the themes of Calpurnia's explorations of science and nature and evolution tied into Calpurnia's evolution as a girl becoming a young woman. Calpurnia is deciding what she'd like to be and do someday, and it doesn't fit with her family's (and society's) expectations of her. I'm eager to see what happens next!
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Reading Progress

04/15/2015 marked as: currently-reading
38.0% "Revisiting on audiobook before reading the sequel!"
04/18/2015 marked as: read
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