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The Keeping Days

(Keeping Days #1)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A fourteen-year-old girl tells about her family and their collective experiences during a seven month period in 1900.
Published April 1999 by Vivisphere Publishing (first published January 1st 1973)
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4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  247 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Miss America 1983
Recommended to Mariel by: The reigning butter queen of 1900
I found this dusty time capsule in my backyard. It arrived on the back of a 1980s has-been actor (and he arrived on the back of a flaming jet pack!). The dry ice revealed a neon sticker that said "1900". "Remember me?" It said, "We loved this in our childhood. It reminded us of growing up in 1900! We were bosom buddies, skipped through prairies with our blind older sister and ate pickled limes and fixed up teenaged girls with older gentlemen! And warmed the hearts of dried up bitches so they cou ...more
Vicki Jaeger
Sep 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: tween & teens
Recommended to Vicki by: Daly City librarian
I had to dig into my memory banks to find this book. I vaguely remember a series from my youth that included a girl named Tish and a boy named Kenny, and couldn't remember anything else. So a search of the Library of Congress, then a purchase on, and here it is...The Keeping Days. It's a great little young adult novel based in the early 1900s in Yonkers. Tish, the main character, *can* be overly sensitive, and a bit emotional, but she really is a believable character. I really enjoyed ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comfort-read
7/2014 This might be the next-to-last time I read this. I love it dearly, but I'm aging out of it. I'm focusing on Evie more than Tish, for one thing. And I don't want to lose the magic entirely.

6/2010 Standing by my five-star rating. Tish's voice rings true in the overwrought way I remember from my own adolescence. I love the first chapter better than maybe any other first chapter in a series. It never fails to make me cry. I think the Sterling family is real and endearing. I love the fact tha
Rachel Piper
I enjoyed this book, but might have been more in love with it if I'd read it as a moody teenager. I had a similar reaction to this book as I did to "Ballet Shoes"--that I didn't really like the characters enough to want to hang out with them, even though I really WANTED to like them. Tish Sterling's mother is the most dynamic character, relatable character (who hasn't had a mother like her, or felt overworked and underappreciated?), though she is often dismissed as a martyr and gets the short en ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Okay, I soooooo enjoyed reading this. It was funny, clever, and SPOT-ON what being in a family is. Plus, Tish's mother is SOOO much like mine. I wish I would have read it as a teen because I think I would have loved it even more, but it's still very likeable for an adult. It reminds me of the movie 'Meet Me in St. Louis' but perhaps that's just because they're the same era. Anyway, I like memoir-type books like this and I thought it was a goodie. I'm off to read the next in the series.
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit-history
It's always refreshing to have a non-perfect family in young adult novels, especially historical ones. And they wrestled with some real problems--it was not all sweetness and light.

And yet, I couldn't really get into this book. It was hard for me to really like any of the characters, and I've realized that I must love the characters to love the book.

Except Ken. I kinda loved him.
Virginia Messina
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A fourteen-year-old girl confronts issues of family, faith, bigotry, and the general angst of being an adolescent. The story takes place in Yonkers, NY in the year 1900. Sadly, this wonderful young adult novel is out of print. I devoured it in a couple of sittings and can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.
Rebecca McNutt
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Keeping Days was a lot of fun to read, and it's amazing how much we take for granted these days compared to in 1900.
Jan 04, 2017 added it
I loved this series when I was a young teen. Can't believe I've found it again!
A. Kuhlii
Jul 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Ugh. Perhaps one of the most unfeminist books I’ve ever read, with the parody and the cruel treatment of the suffragist characters, the marriage of 18 yr old Bron to 42 yr old Albright, and the horrible treatment of Mrs. Sterling (kept barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and not allowed to be told about her husband’s business affairs). Ben has a crisis of faith for 5 seconds, which is resolved by a Christmas carol. And the scarlet fever incident? “Hey, Marnie’s a tomboy--let’s feminize her by gi ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Charming coming-of-age story set in the early 1900s. Ms. Johnston does a very good job of honestly and accurately looking at some of the issues that teenagers face - parental conflicts, spirituality, increasing sexuality, self-perception, popularity, and so on. Very little objectionable content. Please note: Some comments in the book could be taken as supportive of universalism.
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set in 1900 in Yonkers, New York, this book is the journal of 14 year-old Tish, middle child of a large suburban family. Tish feels nobody understands her and longs to be a writer. She pours out her feelings about life, love and her family in her journal. Tish collects special days she calls "keeping days" and hopes her new year will be full of them, instead she gets a mother who insists on being an Early Christian Martyr, an older sister who is conflicted in her feelings towards two gentlemen, ...more
Heroes & Heartbreakers
“As soon as I awoke on the morning of my fourteenth birthday I knew it was going to be a Keeping Day.”

So begins The Keeping Days, the first of six books in Norma Johnston’s charming series of the same name. Supposedly based on family stories told to the author by her aunts and uncles, these books follow two generations of a close-knit family in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx in the years leading up to World War I. Together the family copes with an array of challenges, from the death of
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really loved this series as a teenager. It's historical fiction told in the first person, my favorite when I was a kid! When I found it at the library, I thought I would reread it and see if it still as great as I thought. As a teen, I loved it so much that I saved my money and bought the whole series. They are somewhere down in the basement in a box, so it was easier just to check it out of the library.

Rereading this now, I don't find it as moving. I think it is because I'm no longer a "sensi
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kidlit
I should prepare to get stoned by the Maudlers, eh? People say there is a lot of homage to MHL. How about Alcott (the scarlet fever section)and I know the bit about someone copying a poem and winning a prize with it is from somewhere -- LMM, maybe? The various spinster aunts are right from LMM. It's like Johnston read all the kidlit we loved, turned her brain on blend, and made a frothy kidlit milkshake.

The mother character drove me crazy. I found her to be unlikeable, and I hated her habit of s
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in a series with the same title. It's a story of a 14 year-old girl and her family interactions and it takes place in 1900 in Yonkers, New York. The girl, Tish Sterling, decides which events in her life will be "Keeping Days" that she pens into her journal. Only it doesn't always work out that way. Her big family don't always get along and mama, who is expecting her 7th child, is often abrupt. Bron, the older sister, can't make up her mind whom to marry. Tish has the emoti ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, youth, vintage
The first six months of Tish's 14th year, in 1900. I have mixed feelings on this - I liked a non-nostalgic look at the the time period, but I could feel the author's era (70s) creeping in, too. I suspect I would have liked this more as a kid/tween. There was a lot I still liked - the scarlet fever, Bron and her suitors, the time with Gramps, but characters like Hodel and Cee were so undeveloped, and the crisis of spirituality at the end felt like an odd way to end the story. I also wanted to sha ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I quite liked this book. It's very real and has extremely well developed and believable characters. I particularly liked the mother - she's just so snarky and hilarious - especially in her dealings with Aunt Kate; although I can see that she'd be difficult to live with... I loved the way Tish was such a teenager - this book depicts what teenage girls, and boys for that matter, go through very well.
Barbara Mader
Jun 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Because I was up until three a.m. reading this, I figure I have to give it four stars. I had never read it before.

Don't know if it can really be compared to any of the Betsy-Tacy books, but if so, I'm afraid meeting Tish causes me to find Betsy Ray (even) more spoiled and vacuous than before. Maud is probably the better writer, though I would have to consider this . . . Johnston's scope is more ambitious.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Keeping Days is very interesting book. It tells you the story of fourteen year old Tish and how she lives her life in 1900. It shows her feelings in a descriptive way. It shows her struggle to keep the family together and her faith. It uses some language that wasn't probably around back then, and it it was, it wasn't used that frequently, so it doesn't seem completely realistic, and distracted me from the plot. Besides that, it was well written, and I can't wait to read the next one.
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kira by: Found them on my own in junior high...
The Keeing Days Books: Absolutely the best series of books I read starting when I was 13 - I loved loved loved Tish and her family and I have the entire series waiting for my five nieces and hopefully my own daughter...all six books are wonderful and I think that Norma Johnston's writing style is my favorite out of any author I have ever read, no matter how many favorite books came along over the years after these.
I only wish for other girls that these were still currently in print.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this book. The cover wasn't much. Plus, when I looked at the checkout slip, there wasn't much action...1976, 1982, 1984, 1990! Granted, the system may have been computerized after that date, but still! I'm looking forward to reading some of the other books in the series.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
I'm not sure I'd give this five stars if I were reading it for the first time now. But I loved these books as a child/teen. I don't think I'd read any of these since I was a teenager, so this is the first re-read in a long time. Anyway, the five stars was based on my memories and the feeling I had for these books as a child. I'm going to let it stand.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teens to adult women
I first read this book when I was in seventh grade. I have reread it so many times that its falling apart. Its actually part of a series called The Keeping Days and they are all wonderful. Every time I read I get something out of it. Even as an adult I still love to read it and hope to pass it on to my daughter someday.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Great book about a family from the 14 year old daughter's perspective. It's a bit overwhelming to think of children being so intuitive about the dynamics in a family. I love the idea of keeping days...
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childhood, 2-3-times
One of my favorite series, but for a long time I couldn't remember the name of it. Unearthed the titles in a report I wrote for 7th grade. I will defintely be re-reading them. Also exc ited to discover there are more in the series.
May 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
A favorite from adolescence.
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was outside my comfort zone, but I enjoyed it. Very true-to-life. Not sure if I'll read all of the rest of the series, but it was a good, new experience for me.
Christine Marciniak
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love the whole Keeping Days series, they are like the comfort food of books. I've read them all many many times.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just re-read this... I can't find the whole series - it's out of print, but I loved these books as pre-teen!
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Norma Johnston was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA, the only child of Marjorie (Pierce), a teacher and Charles Eugene Chambers Johnston, an engineer. She read voraciously--especially mysteries, to which her family was addicted. She was ducated at Ramsey public schools and Montclair State College, later studied acting at the American Theatre Wing and elsewhere, and received a teaching certificat ...more

Other books in the series

Keeping Days (6 books)
  • Glory in the Flower (Keeping Days, #2)
  • The Sanctuary Tree (Keeping Days, #3)
  • A Mustard Seed of Magic (Keeping Days, #4)
  • A Nice Girl Like You (Keeping Days, #5)
  • Myself and I (Keeping Days, #6)
“When we really love and are loved, we are no longer free to act as we please, because we can't shake off the knowledge that whatever we do affects those we love and who love us. This is what family means... Mutual love and responsibility, and the discipline of love.” 1 likes
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