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Up a Road Slowly

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The Newbery Award-winning novel

From the author of Across Five Aprils and No Promises in the Wind comes her most beloved story of a girl's coming of age.

After her mother's death, Julie goes to live with Aunt Cordelia, a spinster schoolteacher, where she experiences many emotions and changes as she grows from seven to eighteen.

197 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1966

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About the author

Irene Hunt

19 books78 followers
Irene Hunt was an American children's writer known best for historical novels. She was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal for her first book, Across Five Aprils, and won the medal for her second, Up a Road Slowly. For her contribution as a children's writer she was U.S. nominee in 1974 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition available to creators of children's books. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irene_Hunt]

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 662 reviews
Profile Image for Katie Tatton.
215 reviews6 followers
April 15, 2020
Without a doubt, beyond compare, my favorite book ever. Up a Road Slowly is the book sent to me by my closest aunt the fall after my father died. It came with a note telling me how much she treasured the book and hoped that it would find a place in my heart too. Whether it was because the book came from such an influence in my life or because I was still emotionally raw when I read it, (or maybe because it's a Newberry Award winning novel,) Up a Road Slowly struck a chord within me that has never ceased to play on my heart. I try to read it once a year or so, and nearly twenty years later, it still speaks to me.

Up a Road Slowly is the coming-of-age story of Julie Trelling, a girl of seven who's sent to live with a spinster aunt in the country after her mother's death. The story follows her elementary school experiences of friendships forged and lost, classmates who are both mercilessly teased and teasers, and the painfully real outcasting of a mentally handicapped girl. The story of Julie's first love and its loss is poignant and completely relatable. (Who among us hasn't out of loneliness fancied a rather shoddy love into something beautiful?) My favorite passages in the book are the one in which Julie learns life's lessons. Irene Hunt, the author, has a way of injecting the truths I wish someone had told me in a way that is neither preachy or unbelievable.
Profile Image for Coral Rose.
355 reviews16 followers
March 31, 2009
I first read this book in high school, when I found it while shelving books at the public library (I have that job to thank for so many favorite reads!) and I'm sure I read it 5 times between then and graduating from college. I just reread this book for the first time since college this past week, and was not disappointed.

This book is sweet, sincere and touching. Julie's innocent, earnest journey from confused seven-year-old to confident seventeen-year-old. In short, manageable chunks we observe her struggles with her very similar and strong-willed guardian, her struggles to feel loved, her first boyfriend and subsequent understanding of the difference between love and enabling. What I like about it the most, though, is the reliance on family, functional or dysfunctional.

Julie's family supports Aunt Cordelia through her first meeting in years with the boy who broke her heart. Cordelia gently asks about Julie's father's feelings when considering where Julie should stay through high school. The joy when Julie recovers from the scar of first love lost. Julie's consideration of her niece's feelings.

Maybe because my family is so important and vital to me, I understand how you can love the very things about your family that drive you crazy, and how precious it is to have a family when the road we walk is sad or confusing. They don't always do the right thing, but sometimes the littlest gesture is the one we remember for years.

I cried this read-through, in that very early chapter where Julie is crying inconsolably in the closet and Cordelia crawls in and holds her and cries with her. When I came home for Thanksgiving right after Cori died, I got into my parents water bed and went to sleep. When I woke up, my sisters were there, one on each side, and we just talked quietly, remembering when Cori visited and just being together. I love this book because it reminds me of moments like that, when being a family is what's holding you together, imperfections and all.

Wow. Um. I don't know if this is a coherent review at all, but I feel like I should mention one more thing. One of the main negatives mentioned in other reviews about this book is Aunt Cordelia's statement that a woman becomes a woman when she loves a man. Perhaps, being a bit on the old-fashioned side, I don't find fault with this because I agree with her, but I think this statement is more than just an strong support of marriage. This statement is made in a context of not just love, but of self-sacrificing love. Not love that annihilates an entity, but a gracious love like that of Cordelia for Jonathan, a love that encompasses his frail, dying wife and supports him long after her hope of being his wife herself has died. I don't think Cordelia is suggesting that a single woman is incomplete, so much as that a person who has never truly loved someone more than themselves is incomplete. And you know, loving someone else unconditionally is a challenge that everyone should try to live up to, single or married, young or old.

And that is what I have to say about that. Katie, I hope this isn't too verbose for you. Talk about being a chatterbox.
Profile Image for Miz Lizzie.
1,111 reviews
February 19, 2010
The book is written in the style of a memoir, which gives it feel (at least to me) of really being a book about childhood and growing up for adults.

I was very frustrated by the lack of placement in time or place in the text, which was not assisted at all by the cover of the paperback copy that I read which features a pretty modern looking (if on the sentimental, traditional side) teenager. For a book published in the middle of the 1960s, it seemed to me to extraordinarily nostalgic of a simpler, more innocent time. I think the latest the setting could realistically have been was the 1950s.

I did not think it was well constructed at all. There were several points at which the author talks about things apparently have been going on for years but not a single mention of them is made until suddenly it becomes part of the "plot" (such as it was). For instance, it is not until Julie is a teenager and debating over going back to live with her father (who apparently, being a man, was constitutionally unable to raise children younger than teenagers on his own after his wife's death) that we suddenly hear about all these visits Julie has had with her father over the years. Then, near the end, Julie confides as if it should be obvious to the reader by now that she has always secretly wanted to be a writer when the only writing Julie has ever been shown to have any interest in are her high school English essays (and that is only brought up, it seems because her boyfriend has been getting her to write his essays as well).

I literally cringed when the message of the book was blatantly revealed as being "a woman is not complete until she is in love." And then indeed Julie suddenly manages to become that ideal perfect never-losing her-temper-always-doing-things-for-others-perfectly-understanding-of-others' feelings woman when she and Danny finally become a couple.

Yes, I absolutely loathed this book. I read it as a teenager in the 1970s but it didn't (thankfully) make much of an impact.

Having said that, however, I do recognize that there was a period in my life (ages 10-12) when I would have absolutely relished the "good girl" message, the sentimentality, and the soft understated romance. And, in the very conservative and religious community in which I work, I know that many parents and their tweens and possibly teens would be very appreciative of the traditional message in this Young Adult novel. (And, I do feel it was probably honored in 1967 at least in part as a Young Adult novel that deliberately stuffed the realities of life back in Pandora's box and showed instead a sweet, innocent, and, oh, so sentimental view of a girl's coming of age before the 1960s.)
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,006 reviews104 followers
September 8, 2020
So I am of course well aware that Irene Hunt’s 1966 novel Up A Road Slowly won the 1967 Newbery Award. But from a personal reading pleasure point of departure, I have indeed and nevertheless found main protagonist Julie’s coming of age journey and story totally and utterly disappointing in almost every way and have indeed also found so many (at least to and for me) problematic issues with Irene Hunt’s presented text that in my opinion (and the novel’s Newbery Award notwithstanding), Up a Road Slowly definitely does rather leave everything to be desired.

Now first and foremost, I do very much consider the rather obvious lack of a sense of specific time in Up a Road Slowly both annoying and majorly frustrating. I mean from the publication date, Up a Road Slowly was written in the 1960s. But there is nothing in Irene Hunt’s narrative that specifically points out that this is actually the case, that Up a Road Slowly is set in the 60s, and conversely, there is also really nothing that somehow places Up a Road Slowly into an earlier era either, leaving a story that feels rather temporally floating and removed at best and for that matter not even all that realistic regarding a sense of geographic place. And really, and for me personally, a coming-of-age story truly does need to have a sufficiently realistic time and place background and setting in order to feel authentic, but from where I am standing, Up a Road Slowly does not ever really demonstrate or achieve this.

Furthermore and even more troubling, with main protagonist Julie, I have truly within the pages of Up a Road Slowly found her a mostly rather infuriating and unappealing character, and how she has been conceptualised by Irene Hunt as rather strange and often not all that realistic (with Julie’s thoughts and musings at the age of seven feeling much too mature and nuanced for that particular age but with her emotions and attitudes as she, as Julie, enters her teens often seeming woefully immature and not all that age appropriate). And yes, even though much of Up a Road Slowly is obviously meant to represent a display of Julie’s innermost thoughts, dreams and points of view, of Julie being in her own head so to speak, I still do tend to find Julie rather majorly annoying for all that, not all that likeable and also therefore do consider partaking of her innermost musing rather tedious and uninteresting.

But indeed, what has finally decided me on only rating Up a Road Slowly with but one star (and not the three stars I was originally toying with) is actually and definitely twofold in nature. For one, while I obviously (and as already mentioned and sufficiently explained above) do not tend to find Julie and how she presents herself in Irene Hunt’s narrative as all that appealing and relatable, if the secondary characters, if the supporting characters encountered in Up a Road Slowly had also not been so stereotypical and generally lacking in textual depth, I probably could have handled and stomached Julie being so very much personally unappealing as a main protagonist much better and more lastingly (but really, an unappealing to and for me main character, combined with cardboard flat and totally on the surface secondaries, this was and remains just a wee bit too much reading aggravation). And for two, I also and equally cannot and will not (and even with Up the Road Slowly having been penned over fifty years ago) accept that horrible message of Julie’s Aunt Cornelia that a woman is supposedly only a true woman once she is in love and has found herself a man (a future husband). Because sorry, but such an attitude is (in my opinion) both totally insensitive and also basically relegates all women who are unmarried or who have in fact chosen to remain single onto the proverbial manure heap of life, and there is simply NO WAY, I am ever going to even remotely be accepting of that kind of an attitude (and I in fact do believe that Irene Hunt in Up a Road Slowly considers Aunt Cornelia to be speaking the truth here and for Cornelia's viewpoint of women needing to fall in love and to get married in order to be truly considered fulfilled as bona fide women as something to unfortunately be actively copied, as to be emulated).
Profile Image for DaNae.
1,296 reviews74 followers
February 26, 2011
Up a Road Slowly is a love story. Not a boy meets girl kind of story, but a girl meets maiden aunt kind of story. Julie is seven when her mother dies and she and her older brother are whisked of to live in the country with Aunt Cordelia, a spinster school teacher with a ram rod posture and a ram rod distinction between correct and not. Julie and Cordelia are instantly at odds. They rub against each other for the next ten years where they find that they have rubbed off on each other to the betterment and delight of both.



I spent the first three quarters of this book in giddy-sycophantic love. Hunt's writing is lovely and precise. Her character development three dimensional to the point of yearning to look for real estate next to the Bishop homestead. Uncle Haskell is the unrepentant alcoholic black sheep of the family. He is painted with an affecting clarity and humor. When he writes Julia a note after the death of a school mate, its honesty and grace broke my heart into a million pieces.



It took awhile for me to realize that even if I had read this book as a child there is no way I could have appreciated it as I was at present. I believe that a child and an adult will walk away with completely different experiences. I'm afraid to say that there may not be much to keep today’s young readers enthralled. For all of its beauty, it is a quiet story.



The one element that drove me to distraction was that I could not determine what time period the book was set. It won the Newbery in 1967 but seemed much to sedate for the time period. I couldn't tell it I was reading a period piece or if Hunt was consciously being coy with the year.



I might hand if off to one of my students, and then hold my breath that she would appreciate a fraction of what I found to love.

Profile Image for Shelley.
2,252 reviews146 followers
June 27, 2008
I love this book. I have loved it since I first read it back in third grade, and continued to love it this week. What I don't quite understand is WHY I love it. A lot of reviews here liken it to Anne of Green Gables, but outside of the very basic plot (girl goes to live with stern older woman), it's not at all similar, in plot or style. It's incredibly old-fashioned, in thoughts and terms and story. The language and how it flows is very 1960s, and reminds me a bit of Madeleine L'Engle's precocious teen characters. In any other authors, the prose would set my teeth on edge for being almost too cloying and self-aware. But damn, I don't care; I love this book, I love Julie and Danny and Aunt Cordelia and even Uncle Haskell. Go figure.
Profile Image for Karen.
454 reviews71 followers
July 21, 2014
This book was first published in 1966, and it shows. Like, you can definitely tell from the get go that not only does the story take place a while ago, but it’s definitely written in that young-adult style of the past. Do you know what I mean? To me, the stories and characters in most YAs from 20+ years ago feel more removed—like, the emotions feel more sugarcoated and distant or something. Anyway, while there’s nothing wrong with that style, it did take me a while to get into the book because of it. Everything just felt like I was seeing it through the haze of the years rather than living it with Julie.

And really, that could’ve been entirely deliberate on the author’s part, since the story is written as Julie looking back on her childhood and teenage years, which she spent living with her older, unmarried aunt. To me this story felt a bit like the “Anne of Green Gables” series. Nothing too crazy happens—rather it’s a year-by-year account of her growing up and the normal adolescent things, good and bad, that she goes through as she matures.

The story generally felt quaint and sweet, and I thought it would stay that way throughout. And it does, but towards the end, you get a few glimpses of Aunt Cordelia and Uncle Haskell that give them surprising but much needed depth. And I think that depth catches Julie herself off-guard a bit, as she’s used to seeing them through the eyes of her childhood rather than the eyes of a near-adult. And that depth towards the end made it all more satisfying than I think I would have found it otherwise.

Overall, a book that’s short and charming, if a little slow. If I had a 10- or 11-year-old daughter, I think this is the kind of book I’d want to read out loud with her.

Rating: 3 / 5

Originally posted at Book Light Graveyard
Profile Image for Emily.
847 reviews140 followers
March 16, 2021
When I added the 1967 Newbery medal winner to my goodreads shelves, I gave it four stars based on the memory of reading it in my youth. I think it may have impressed me because it was perhaps one of the first books I read exploring "deep" emotions. The story follows a girl, Julie, who having lost her mother, spends ages seven to seventeen growing up with a stern aunt (literally, a school marm), with a dissipated uncle in the background. Having read it for a second time, now as an adult, the word that comes most easily to mind to describe it is "overwrought." Julie feels everything, from the death of a despised schoolmate to hurting her aunt's feelings, so very very keenly. The book is also a little frustrating because, as a number of others on goodreads have noted, it's impossible to pinpoint exactly when in the 20th century pre-1966 the book is taking place, and I'm also unclear on where it's meant to be set, and decided it was rural Illinois, simply because that's where the author's other well known book is set. Also like others, I found it annoying when Aunt Cornelia, briefly relaxing her uptight demeanor, tells Julie that only loving a good man (whether its requited or not) makes a woman whole. And I agree with those who find it's insufficiently explained why it's impossible for Julie to continue living with her widowed father and teenage sister when her mother dies. I had completely forgotten the existence of a third sibling, who is so peripheral (he is packed off to boarding school -- because he's a boy? -- and basically never heard from again), that one wonders why he's included at all. Here's what I did like, and what had stuck with me all those decades when the rest of the book was a dim memory: Julie's evolving relationships with her aunt, and especially her uncle, a flawed character with whom she manages to forge a connection none the less.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,260 reviews30 followers
Read
August 21, 2011
Well .... unfortunately I wasn't overly impressed with this book. For one thing, it bothered me that I couldn't quite ascertain the era in which the story takes place. The characters seemed to hold values of a bygone era (the importance for a woman to keep her house clean, the idea that it's a man's world [I think Uncle Haskell said that] & the notion that the aspiration of all young girls is to get married and become a good wife) and seemed old-fashioned even within the context of the story. I wanted to know more details regarding Julie's mother - so I could understand Julie's actions and emotions, especially early in the book. And I guess I wanted a little more drama - it seemed like some of the things that Julie reacted to were often trivial (I thought she was a little oversensitive, although not due to being egotistical, as suggested by one of the characters)- and a little less predictability (of course her family didn't like Brett). Although some characters were well-developed (Aunt Cordelia for example), others were not (her brother Chris, her father) Also I wanted to see more of a plot line develop around Aunt Cordelia and Jonathan Eltwing - everyone seemed just a little stifled and repressed in this book to me. Not quite what I expected for a Newbery winner, based on the winning books I've read so far.
Profile Image for Kristin.
628 reviews
June 21, 2022
I bought the audiobook, and I’m so happy I did. I love this book so much. I have read the book so many times that as I listened to the narrator I’d think, “I would have said that differently.” The narrator was fine. I’m so glad I have another way to enjoy my favorite book.

I just finished this beautiful book again. And this time, I felt such a strong longing to know these characters personally. I love this book so much.

This is such a beautiful coming of age stories. I've lost count of how many times I have read it. Beautiful.

I just reread this. I love this book. Years after I initially read it and it still moves me. Love it.
Profile Image for Carol Bakker.
1,126 reviews76 followers
June 4, 2017
After I posted a story of a telephone interchange I had as a girl shortly after my mom's sudden death, a friend remarked that my story reminded her of this book.

Last night I needed some escapist literature. I always say, Better an excellent children's book than some shoddy pulp fiction. I was in the perfect melancholy mood to appreciate Irene Hunt's novel in a minor key. I read it in one sitting and my responses have been brewing ever since.

Will it be a five star book for you? I don't know. The beginning and middle were superb, the ending a bit predictable and on the edge of facile. I was relieved it wasn't too tidy.

I had read Across Five Aprils twenty years ago. But Irene Hunt is surely on my radar; I will definitely read more.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
639 reviews
January 22, 2015
(Spoilers ahead!) This Newbery Medal book came out in 1967 -- but I never read it until now. When seven-year-old Julie loses her mother, she also loses her home and her sense of security. She goes to live with her mother's sister at the family homestead. Aunt Cordelia has never married, but her brother (a narcissistic, essentially harmless alcoholic) lives in a separate house on the property. Aunt Cordelia teaches in a one-room schoolhouse, where as a young woman she coached her beau into higher education. But all that aside, this is essentially a coming-of-age novel about Julie, who has to negotiate her identity. Is she more like Aunt Cordelia or Uncle Haskell? And what roles do her father and older sister now play in her life? When Julie is in high school, she falls in love with a cad who eventually dumps her. She then takes up with a chum from the old days at Aunt Cordelia's school -- the boy she has really loved all along. Julie wants to be a writer and makes several attempts at dramatic short stories. She must learn to write what she knows. She is finally published when someone else submits one of her stories without her knowledge. The End.

So, this turns out to be one of many coming-of-age stories, written by female authors, about a girl who wants to be a writer. (See Little Women, Harriet the Spy, etc.) Somehow it reminds me of one such story in particular . . . but the difference between Anne Shirley and Julie Trelling is their motivation. Anne just wants scope for the imagination, some kindred spirits, and a bosom friend. Julie, whose orphan story is a bit more serious-minded than Anne's, wants to be the apple of someone's eye. Anne must learn not to make so many mistakes; Julie must learn to love and be loved.
Profile Image for Lisa.
209 reviews228 followers
September 17, 2018
A good book. I used to hear about this author in English textbooks, I think, so I thought to give her a go. Set in the past, so that was interesting. It's about a girl who is sent to live with her aunt after her mom dies + she has to learn tough life lessons + grow up. It's a coming of age story and not terribly exciting, but still good.

What I liked -

. Uncle Haskell. I know that's weird considering his questionable character but still. I really liked him.

. The life difficulties Julie faced. Like death. Death seems to be a bit more common in older books, and this was no exception. Two or three people died. Tragic and sobering.

. She was wrong about true love. Usually in YA people meet their true loves in chapter four and BOOM fate has been determined. This girl learned that her views were warped and she was wrong and not everyone is as good as they make you feel.

. I kind of appreciate how she matured. And Aunt Cordelia. I liked how her relationship with her aunt grew.

. I like how this explored character and things being different from what they seem and how the past shapes people and how you wish things could have been different but they weren't. I feel like one could gain a better empathy and understanding of difficult people in reading this.


Stuff I didn't like?

. Idk it was slow moving and was there a main plot premise? Idk. Just Julie growing up.

. Also why are all heroines quick tempered and clumsy and starting out as obviously immature and troublesome tomboys and then they grow into young ladies?? Where's the book where the girl IS a young lady and has to step out of her comfort zone into adventure??

Ok review over. You like old time coming of age classics? This is for you.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
327 reviews22 followers
October 16, 2022
The later Betsy-Tacy books meet the Emily of New Moon trilogy (L.M. Montgomery) in this delightful middle-grade-ish coming-of-age story.
Profile Image for Jenny.
612 reviews3 followers
May 17, 2022
A very realistic coming of age novel. As Julie grows she goes through phases when she is sometimes unlikable and totally relatable. This Newbery Medal winner is over 50 years old and feels classic, not dated.

Newbery Medal Winner 1967
Profile Image for Bethany.
1,611 reviews13 followers
August 27, 2016
Read for 5420 class

I am so thankful that jFics have come a long way since Up a Road Slowly was published in 1966 because this book was just awful.

Firstly, the emotions Julie experiences are much too mature and nuanced for a seven-year-old, which doesn't lend verisimilitude to the narration, even though it is told from adult Julie's perspective. This adult point-of-view also lends a didactic tone to the overall story, which adds to the impatience and frustration I felt as I read Up a Road Slowly.

Additionally, the emotions are told to the reader, not shown, which makes for drab content and uninvested readers. However, the theme of the story that induced metaphorical vomiting was that a girl needs a man to be complete- that she can't even be complete in her platonic, non-romantic emotions without experiencing true love. Just. No. No woman should ever have to feel like they are incomplete without having experienced love. A man does not make a woman "complete".

Lastly, there is absolutely no historical context. The entire story is told in a small-town bubble. Now, I know that living in a rural community and/or small village often feels like being disconnected from the world at large, but readers never receive a glimpse of happenings outside of the town to clue them into the year or even decade. There are cars, but Julie and Danny both are familiar with riding horses and trot together regularly. Girls mostly seem to wear dresses, especially in public, but pants aren't completely forbidden or taboo. Uncle Haskell is an alcoholic who buries his empty bottles down by the creek, which hints that it's during Prohibition in the 1920's, but strict and demanding Aunt Cordelia never rails against his drinking, as she most likely would if it were the Prohibition Era. There are no cultural clues, either: no movies, actors, famous people, or books mentioned outside of Jane Austen and Shakespeare, who have been around for centuries. I just want to know when this book takes place so I can better create a picture in mind as I read. Should I imagine Danny's car is an old Model T or is it a new Buick Century?

Between the overly mature emotions of the protagonist and didactic tone, the vomit-inducing true love theme, and the lack of any historical context, I would have never finished Up a Road Slowly if I hadn't had to read it for class.
Profile Image for Møstʌfy̍ .
99 reviews43 followers
November 17, 2017
DNF
I found it boring and figured the whole book is gonna be about ordinary events in an ordinary girl's life. So, no thank you.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,539 reviews375 followers
August 31, 2018
Very much a coming of age story, sweet but angsty. It is a nice combination of not too intense but still full of underlying drama.
Profile Image for Melody Schwarting.
1,368 reviews78 followers
June 13, 2022
2022 Review
I still really, really love this book. It's exquisite. It hits me in that same place as In This House of Brede. The richness of Julie's interior life, the crystalline glimpses into the human psyche. I love everything about it, more and more each time I read it.

As to the Montgomery references below, I get the feeling the Anne books were ones that had seeped into Hunt's soul. Unlike the references to Austen, these are veiled. In one scene, Julie refers to being "where the brook and river meet." That settles it for me--Hunt was a Montgomery reader. Whether the references are Easter eggs or unintentional revelations of her reading habits, it doesn't matter. As I'm re-reading the Emily books, I notice more of a feeling akin to New Moon than Green Gables, but the comparisons are only superficial. Hunt writes very differently from Montgomery at the core; she writes in first person, for one.

Goodness, I need to read/re-read more by Hunt. I don't care if none of her other books have the freshwater quality of Up a Road Slowly. I just love her writing very much.

2021 Review
Middle school was when I first encountered Up a Road Slowly, and I remember thinking, “She really does mean slowly.” Julie stood out to me as a character, but I recall being underwhelmed by the story as a whole, though certain parts have stayed with me. For whatever reason, this novel has been on my mind recently. As an adult reader, I love slow stories and deeply interior novels, so I hoped Up a Road Slowly would work better for me now.

In the first chapters, Hunt makes a few connections (intentionally or not) with L. M. Montgomery’s Avonlea world: a character named Cordelia, another named Carlotta Berry. Two single adult siblings living together, yet apart, on a farm. A one-room schoolhouse. A Cathedral of the Four Birches and prayer in the woods. Some characters who absolutely seem like Montgomery’s. Hmm. Perhaps I make too much of this, for there are more divergences than connections, but…Carlotta/Charlotta the fourth? Cordelia? Berry/Barry? Come on. There is something of Montgomery in here, too. The delight in beauty and the natural world, for one. However, there’s nothing of the whimsy that characterizes Montgomery’s work, or the natural good nature of her characters.

Hunt doesn’t dwell on Julie’s joy as much as she does her sorrows. Julie narrates the book as an older woman, and she’ll refer to times of happiness, but spends longer on the sadness. This makes Up a Road Slowly deep and wise, but also somber, perhaps a little sour, because Julie’s feelings are strong and catching. Up a Road Slowly received the Newbery Medal, but today it would be published as YA rather than children’s. The subject matter is heavier, and the novel is really a bildungsroman. One aspect I especially appreciated this time around was Hunt’s adult characters, who all grew in their own ways. No static grown-ups here.

I loved Julie much more this time around. Her experiences and responses come across realistically. The narrative style lends an enviable self-awareness to Julie, which felt preachy to me the first few times I read it. Now, it’s very much in the narrative style I enjoy most, and didn’t feel preachy at all. The sly humor was sharper than I remembered, and the progression of events more natural. Toward the end, Julie begins to take her writing aspirations seriously, and her progression is piercingly lovely. That chapter could stand on its own, nearly, and is a good study of writing about writing in fiction.

A successful re-read of Up a Road Slowly gives me hope for re-reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at some point. There was so much to love about it (Francie, the bookishness, the extraordinarily well-drawn world), but one character (Katie Nolan) spoiled the whole book for me, as Cordelia spoiled Up a Road Slowly for me at first. Coming back to Up a Road Slowly at a different time in my life allowed me to empathize more with Cordelia, even like and admire her. Hopefully the same can happen with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

When I started re-reading it, I was hoping for a more positive experience, but I didn’t dare hope that I would actually come to love Up a Road Slowly. It’ll have to settle in my soul a bit before I consider it a favorite, but I heartily enjoyed it this time around, and look forward to visiting with Julie again someday.
Profile Image for Sophie.
58 reviews11 followers
April 25, 2020
This was such a cute sweet book! It was a very easy read but I was very impressed the way the characters were developed over such a short book. They all had very realistic personalities which made them very easy to relate too. I would definitely recommend this book!
Profile Image for Thomas Bell.
1,320 reviews8 followers
May 27, 2015
Slowly is right, though suddenly at times. The book is about a girl who, at 7 years old, is transferred to her aunt's house because her dad is single and thus (in the author's opinion) unable to care for her properly. The girl grows up and discovers who she is and what different kinds of relationships mean to her. The sentences flow smoothly and are well written - give the author an A for completing a marvelous writing assignment. However, the story moves very slowly but jumps from one setting to another almost invisibly, so it sometimes takes a while to catch up to what the new situation is.

And then she describes some things too much. For example, she could have said that "even the windshield wipers, with their fruitless swishing back and forth, echoed the feeling in the car that rainy day." However, she spends almost an entire page on those stupid wipers and the symbolism behind them the 12-year-old was thinking about. Then she brings them up again when she didn't feel so somber anymore. Urgh.

I was also a little frustrated with the 'better' way her step-mom taught. She wanted the kids to think for themselves, but the example the author gave of that was a writing assignment for the kids to write what Thoreau would think of Federal funding of Public Education, right after reading his book 'Civil Disobedience.' In this is the hidden assumption that this Federal funding is bad, and this belief is being pushed on the kids. This is something I very much dislike about the way some teachers teach, and the author praised this sneak in this book as a way to help kids to think for themselves. Yuck.

Also, while trying to show why people should treat mentally disabled kids better, the author then goes on to proclaim, after the kid (whom the author calls 'retarded') dies, that it was better for them so that they don't have to live such an awful life and better for future society as well since we won't have her mixed up in the gene pool. Yes, and all while trying to say how we should treat those people better.

And lastly, the book implies that it is every girl's biggest dream to grow up and get married, and since the guy was so nice as to marry her everything she does from thence onward should be in servitude of her husband, who really doesn't need to do any more. I mean, he married her, right? What more can be expected? She owes him for that.
Profile Image for Lydia Sigwarth.
Author 0 books17 followers
May 21, 2021
I revisited this lovely little novel as an adult with very little memory of the plot. All I remembered is that I must've read it half a dozen times when I was in middle school.

Unlike many of my middle school obsessions, this one held up to adult scrutiny. I even shocked myself by shedding tears towards the end, not because of a death or typical tragic circumstance but just because Hunt so masterfully catches the inner dialogue of growing up. She doesn't resort to pure angst, but instead captures the complex insecurity of becoming a grown-up person in a way that felt timeless.

It's sacrilege, but I always related more to Julie than I did to Anne Shirley. (Anne is queen but I wish Julie was as loved as Anne is.) Anne and Julie feel very similar to me but Julie's flaws feel less charming and more real to me. Julie is not a charming child, she's rude, she acts out, she insults her Aunt regularly. I was also not a charming child, someone with a lot of feelings and no filter and I caused chaos in the way Julie did.

The family dynamics and siblings issues as a backdrop to Julie's story is my favorite element of the book as an adult. The way that the Haskell and Cordelia have a history and family tensions that will never be resolved, and everyone knows what happened and that it's not right but it's too late to change anything. Tragic and real and beautiful.

Anyway I have a lot of feelings and I just wish more people loved this book.
Profile Image for Phil J.
691 reviews52 followers
March 8, 2015
This book is so plainly zoned for 12 year old girls that I felt like I was trespassing while I read it, but here goes...

This novel details the awkward, hormonal, frequently unpleasant growth pangs of a girl slowly approaching womanhood. The main character was unappealing in a way that made the book hard to get through. In contrast, Jacob Have I Loved covers the same ground with an even more unappealing character who nevertheless held my interest. In Paterson's novel, I understood where the character was coming from, and I rooted for her even when she did bad things. In this novel, Julie does bad things just because she's immature. That's not enough of a reason for me to care.

A quick glance at the other reviews demonstrates that a lot of women love the heck out of this book. I speculate that they probably first read it when they were young and less critical of it than they would be today.
Profile Image for Ada.
144 reviews
July 16, 2013
It says they went up the road slowly, but it went too fast for me! It's only 107 pages, and I loved experiencing Julie's life with her and all the interweaving of the people around her. To see her come to grips with her situation from losing her mother at age 7 to accepting the goodness of the people around her was a great journey for me. It wasn't maudlin or preachy. I learned right along with her and didn't want her to leave me on my own. I can definitely see why this qualified for a Newbery award.
Profile Image for elena bomfim.
29 reviews
November 4, 2016
This book is a love story but also about a young girl that comes to grow up in the story. It takes place in the mid 1900s. She goes through tragic events, such as her mother dying, school problems, dating, and family issues. I definitely recommend this book if someone is looking for a book that would touch them and make them think about what they are doing in their lives. It really touched me and I've acted different with people ever since.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
8,897 reviews391 followers
September 2, 2020
Read for the Newbery Club in Children's Books, here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Ah me. The more I write, the less I like the book.
And yet. I think that I will give it two stars because I did like the literary references, the odd bits of poetry quoted at appropriate times.
Profile Image for Sue.
58 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2014
I have half a mind to steal this book from the library. It seems almost necessary so Julie can take her rightful place on the shelf next to Laura and Anne. One of my favorite things is the unique ability a book has to make the tears burn behind my eyes and my heart ache just so. Irene Hunt's Up a Road Slowly does just that. Utterly lovely.
Profile Image for Marita.
79 reviews14 followers
May 16, 2017
I had to read this for school but recently read it again. Loved it even more this time. A gentle book about growing up, with many life lessons along the way.
Profile Image for Kaia.
228 reviews3 followers
July 11, 2018
This books is a very interesting mix of early era Newbery winners (glorification of the past and rural "honest" living, clear moral of the story, and complete with a few cringeworthy moments, ) with the direction I can feel children's and young adult lit starting to move (i.e., honest discussions about death, an fully acknowledged alcoholic uncle, slight mentions of a teen pregnancy, and more mature, though still very innocent, teenage romances). In fact, the second half of this book feels solidly YA. I didn't love this book--parts of it I really enjoyed, parts of it really frustrated me. But, as my slow move through the Newbery winners progresses, it feels like a very clear example of a shift happening.

Side note #1: I KNOW I read several books by this author as a kid, and I know I loved them (Across Five Aprils and No Promises in the Wind), but I have absolutely no memory of the plot of either one.

Side note #2: WHEN DOES THIS BOOK TAKE PLACE? What sort of time-amorphous setting is this?
Profile Image for Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku.
753 reviews49 followers
May 16, 2020
In many ways, Up a Road Slowly reminds me of a modern Anne of Green Gables. We follow Julie's experiences growing up in an episodic nature in the order Julie experiences them as she grows up. Each story might seem innocent at the start, but all come with a moral lesson no matter how frivolous! In a similar way, Julie sees friends come and go, hates and loves boys, and wants to adventure in the world. She's not quite as dramatic as dear Anne Shirley, but she often comes close.

The biggest difference in the Anne of Green Gables parallel is in the narrative structure. The story is narrated by Julie herself, after her 17th birthday. This structure is not common in young adult literature. Hindsight is 20/20, so older Julie's narrative provides a maturity and insight we would not have experienced from younger Julie's perspective.

While I loved this narrative structure, I also credit it with one of the reasons it won the 1967 Newbery Award. Up a Road Slowly seems like the sort of books adults really WANT for kids to read and love. It's fun, episodic, and tells a moral tale without being preachy. But shuffling through Goodreads and Amazon, Up a Road Slowly seems to have been a huge hit with younger children as well. Who's to say why this book won? But in hindsight, this is a much deeper book than the story told from Julie's perspective in the moment would have any right to be.
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