Monday, May 2, 2011

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

The beguiling fourteen-year-old narrator of IN ZANESVILLE is a late bloomer. She is used to flying under the radar-a sidekick, a third wheel, a marching band dropout, a disastrous babysitter, the kind of girl whose Eureka moment is the discovery that "fudge" can't be said with an English accent.

Luckily, she has a best friend, a similarly undiscovered girl with whom she shares the everyday adventures of a 1970s American girlhood, incidents through which a world is revealed, and character is forged.

In time, their friendship is tested-- by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls who stumble upon them as if they were found objects, and by the first, startling, subversive intimations of womanhood.

With dry wit and piercing observation, Jo Ann Beard shows us that in the seemingly quiet streets of America's innumerable Zanesvilles is a world of wonders, and that within the souls of the awkward and the overlooked often burns something radiant and unforgettable.

The fourteen young narrator in this coming of age novel is at times funny yet poignant.  She and her best friend "Flea", short for Felicia, spend almost all of their time together.  Determined to have new school clothes for the fall, they take on a big babysitting job for the summer.  But the kids don't listen and the parents are surreal. 

Their own parents are a bit eccentric as well.  The girls spend alot of time camping out in Flea's familys camper, just so they can play with kittens from a nearby garage, even though they aren't allowed pets. The girls then run into some popular girls and their friendship is tested.

All the while they are going through all of the feelings that teens go through from their childhood years into teenage years into adulthood.  They question, their emotions run high and they make and learn from mistakes.  All set in a small town, this was a nice coming of age story.  Beard writes in an inviting way as to capture the readers attention.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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