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344 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2009
A teeming, swirling world of enormous, wriggling creatures burst into my vision, scaring the daylights out of me. ... Something with many tiny hairs rowed past at high speed; something else with a lashing tail whipped by; a tumbling barbed sphere like a medieval mace rolled past; delicate, filmy ghostlike shadows flitted in and out of the field. It was chaotic, it was wild, it was . . . the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.This middle grade book reminds me of the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but with more of a feminist slant. There's not much of a plot here, and what there is of it is kind of meandering and unresolved, but Callie is a sympathetic and engaging character, her brothers were a hoot (even if they seemed pretty much interchangeable to Callie's grandfather and to me), and her life and experiences in a small town in turn-of-the-century Texas felt very real.
"This is what I swim in?" I said, wishing I didn't know.
"You have to let your husband kiss you once you're married. And you have to kiss him back."I wish Callie and the novel hadn't been quite so dismissive of homemaking--Callie's mother has seven children and regularly resorts to imbibing a tonic with a high alcoholic content to get her through the day, and Callie can't imagine anything worse than being a debutante and then a housewife, even though her family is wealthy enough to have several servants--but on the other hand I'm a firm believer in opportunities and choices for women, and deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by women in prior generations that have enabled us to have so many more rights and options for our lives today. This book is a good reminder for young readers, and for all of us, of the importance of having opportunities to pursue our dreams.
"No," she said.
"Yes." I nodded, as if I knew everything there was to know about husbands and wives kissing. "That's what they do together."
"Do you have to?"
"Oh, absolutely. It's the law."
"I never heard of that law," she said dubiously.
"It's true, it's Texas law."
i asked mother if i could cut my hair, which hung in a dense swelter all the way down my back. she said no, she wouldn't have me running about like shorn savage. i found this manifestly unfair (..).
so i devised a plan: every week i would cut off an inch of hair - just one stealthy inch - so that mother wouldn't notice. she wouldn't notice because i would camouflage myself with good manners. when i took on the disguise of a polite young lady, i could often escape her scrutiny.
- (p4, paperback, january 2011)
how were you supposed to make the stitches the same size? (..) who cared about this stuff?
well, i could answer the last one. my mother cared, and the rest of the world apparently did too, for no good reason that i could figure out. and i, who did not care, was going to be forced into caring. it was ridiculous.
"boys, i have an announcement to make. your sister made the apple pies tonight. i'm sure we will all enjoy them very much."
"can i learn how, ma'am?", said jim bowie.
"no, j.b. boys don't bake pies," mother said.
"why not?" he said.
"they have wives who make pies for them."
"but i don't have a wife." (..)
was there any way i could have a wife, too? i wondered ..