Monday, August 1, 2011

Vacation Reading, Part III

The books I read in Florida really deserve their own posts, but work has been busy and I'm not going to drag these reading compilation posts out any longer than I must!

So, for the third and final chapter of my vacation reading: What I read in Florida

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, the first in a newish children's series by Jeanne Birdsall, is just the kind of book/series I feel I am ALWAYS LOOKING FOR! It's got that innocent, old-school kinda style of the books I grew up reading as a kid—that simple and timeless quality that I love in Lois Lowry and Beverly Cleary books. This story could've been set on 2010 or 1960, and it wouldn't make much of a difference. The Penderwicks are four sisters—Rosalind (age 12), Skye (11), Jane (10), and Batty (4)—who live with their widowed father and pet dog, Hound. In this intro to the series, the Penderwick crew is on summer vacation in the Berkshire Mountains where the sisters meet a young gardener, two rabbits, and a young boy with a horrid mother.

Birdsall creates her story with the day-to-day occurrences that so deeply affect those with an adolescent mentality. She does a good job of creating four distinct and unique characters with the Penderwick sisters who each experience and react to things in her own way. Each character has her own adventure, which is nice because you feel like you know each of them equally as well. There are, so far, three books in the Penderwick series, and I've already started number 2. These are the kinds of books that hooked me when I was kid because they were simple enough to be familiar and relatable but featured new adventures and settings that I did not live. And now I like them for the same reason, and because much of my mentality is still that of an 11-year-old; I'm always on a quest to find things that feel as simple, innocent, and fun as childhood.

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher is a chunkster I read about on a blog and decided I must read, because it sounded like an epic coming-of-age story centered around WWII. The edition I received through Paperbackswap looks like a romance novel. For this reason, I have been saving it for a beach read, just because it looks the part.

The story opens in 1936 when Judith Dunbar is fourteen and beginning boarding school in England after her father's job transfers the family to Singapore. With a couple of aunts being the only relatives Judith has left in Cornwall, she befriends a classmate named Loveday Carey-Lewis and becomes a surrogate member of the Carey-Lewis clan. At the heart of Coming Home are the two frontiers on which Judith grows up and learns to navigate the world independently; she must grow and learn as any normal teenager, but she also must grow in response to the omnipresent war. Love, longing, sadness, independence—all that goes with your typical coming-of-age story is here.

Well, this book is long and I didn't finish it until after I got back to New York. And you know what this means? I was ridiculed many times for reading "something that looks like my grandma would like." So I want to thank you, St. Martin's Paperbacks, for designing such AWFUL book covers. Pilcher's books were republished recently with non-romance novel covers (shown), thank god, so maybe they won't be so judged by the cover. Regardless, I loved this as I figured I would. I was sucked in for 1000 pages of adolescent English wartime drama, and then I discovered there's a miniseries version available instantly on Netflix! I'm also planning on checking out Pilcher's other non-romance novels, and I don't care who makes fun of me on the L train.


Angie Brooke said...

This book sounds so good. Reminds me of stories I read as a kid, like Boxcar Children. So I checked my library...unfortunately I'm not the only one looking for this book. I placed a hold on it and I'm 99 out of 101 on the hold list. I think I'll go to a bookstore and find it.

Kari said...

101 person hold list??? That's unbelievable!!!

Trina said...

I don't think the cover is that unappealing. This does sound like the perfect book to read while kicking back in suites in New York City . I have to get a copy.