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Monthly Book Reads > July Young Adult Book 2011 Discussion: The Belonging Place by Jean Little

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message 1: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 492 comments Mod
Hello everyone! Feel free to discuss about what you loved or hated about this book!

message 2: by Manybooks (last edited Jul 01, 2011 02:11PM) (new)

Manybooks The Belonging Place is one of my absolute favourite books by outstanding Canadian children's author Jean Little. Honestly, most of the books that I have read from her have been outstanding, sensitive and simply amazing.

The Belonging Place, I just love Elspet Mary's narration, Jean Little has an absolute knack for totally capturing the voices of her heroines (her narrators, protagonists) and while reading this book, I felt like I was actually in 19th century Scotland and Canada, I felt like I was walking with Elspet Mary (she basically became me, or I became her).

Although the book is quite easy to read (and yes, it's a good length for a children's novel, but I did want a bit more in the end, it was a five star book for me, but I would have loved more information, more anecdotes, more details), some of the issues presented are rather heavy-duty and really tug at your emotions. I felt that Jean Little really hit on the emotional turmoil that some children (that some individuals) face or can face when immigrating, when moving to a new country, and she also shows how children basically have no say in the matter. Many of you might likely say, but they are just children, but you know, children also have emotions and for some children, moving (changes) are very traumatic. I felt and continue to feel a deep personal connection to Elspet Mary's situation, because when we moved to Canada from Germany when I was about ten years old, I really hated it at first and did not particularly want to move in the first place (and like Elspet Mary, I told my parents that when they asked me, but when push came to shove, of course, I had no say, I had to leave my friends, the house I loved etc.). So I can understand Elspet Mary's frustration. I also think that Jean Little herself has taken parts of her own childhood for this story. She had to move to Canada from Taiwan (where she was born, where her parents were missionaries) in order to go to school, to stay with Canadian relatives she really did not know all that well, while her parents went back to Taiwan to work. I also though that it was a bit problematic and just not incredibly smart for her adoptive father (uncle) to give Elspet a cat companion while he was away trying to set up homesteading in Canada (before the family actually immigrated) and then be surprised and brusque when Elspet wanted to take the cat along on their journey to the new world. Honestly, did he not think that the child might get attached to the animal. Also, Elspet had already lost both mother and father when very young, having to leave her beloved cat behind was emotionally wrenching (although the cat would likely not have survived the sea voyage, it was just something that really made me sad for Elspet, something her parents (her adoptive parents) should have thought about.

I loved the characterisation of this story, all of the characters were vividly realised and well depicted, both their good and bad qualities, although perhaps, Elspet's paternal grandparents were perhaps a bit too stereotypically "villainous" And I did not particularly like how her adoptive father, her uncle, her dead mother's brother kept defending his parents, but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the book, in fact, it increased it, there is just so much interesting information and emotionality in this book. Definitely one of my all-time favourites and very highly recommended!!

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