Monday, February 13, 2012

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

Had so much fun reading this book. Set in a rural central Indiana small town in 1914, it tells the story of a parent-less young teenage girl and her older brother who are trying to make a go of it as auto mechanics. Love the eccentric characters, the homespun humor and the laugh-outloud scenes such as a tornado ripping up a cemetery, a hilarious library board meeting, and a rip-roaring car race at the county fair.
Also enjoyed all the local references, including Brownsburg, Indianapolis, and the Wabash River. There a lots of great and funny lines in this book, but my favorite was the shout-out to librarians: "Put two librarians' heads together, and mountains move."

Monday, February 06, 2012

Growing Up in Zanesville

Jo Ann Beard must have kept a detailed diary as a teen. Otherwise, how would she be able to describe so clearly how it feels to be in junior high school? In Zanesville is written in the first person, with the narrator being a teen-aged girl growing up with an alcoholic father and an angry mother in small town Illinois. Despite the trying circumstances, there is a lot of humor in this book. The first chapter, for example, begins with the narrator and her best friend babysitting a wild group of kids who set the house on fire. A burning house is understandably not funny, but the girls' response to it is. They get all the kids out, all the pets out, and then debate which of their mothers they should call."Forget fathers, forget teachers: our mothers are the ones with the answers, the only people who know something about everything, although it's true that the answers are never that great and that both mothers are incredibly bossy and both have at least one disturbing trait." When they finally do decide on which mother to call, they promptly get to arguing with each other about how much smoke there actually is in the house. All this before anyone thinks to dial 9-1-1! The interplay between the narrator (we never learn her name) and her friend Felicia is priceless. My only complaint about this book: it ended and I really didn't want it to.