Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Harcourt Brace & World, 1st edition, 1968
Genre: Young adult, literature, Bildungsroman
Synopsis & Review: Shannon Lightley was in despair. Tired of being dragged about Europe from school to school in the wake of her divorced parents—her mother a famous English actress, her father a prominent television news commentator—she had taken her last year of high school in a small Oregon town, only to find that she didn’t “belong” in her native America either.
Reached by an old friend of her father’s—a lawyer in Portland—just as she was on the verge of leaving for Europe again, Shannon undertook the assignment he offered her, to track down some odd strangers, living near the local university, who were involved in an unusual will that was being contested. Using an assumed name and working as a waitress in a campus diner, Shannon was entirely on her own for the first time in her life, and as the summer went by, she tried t sort out who she really was and where her future lay. (jacket copy)
At Jenny’s behest (and because I do love Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Moccasin Trail), I checked Greensleeves out from the MCL, and OH MY GOD, I LOVED IT. Greensleeves has a lot to offer: alienation, a world-weary girl expat on the verge of womanhood, investigating a mystery while disguised as her polar opposite, two men who both see through her disguise to the worth beneath, someone finding themselves after high school, and blue eyeshadow. (I love blue eyeshadow. I have LOTS of it) Read the rest of this entry »
Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
originally published 1952
Puffin Newberry Library, 2nd printing, 1988
Genre: Young adult, children’s lit, juvenalia, Oregon history, adventure story
Synopsis & Review: Jim Keath has lived for six years as a Crow Indian when he learns that his two younger brothers and a sister are journeying west to take up land. Although Jim finds it difficult to fit in with the family he hasn’t seen since childhood, and though they are wary and distrustful of him, Jim feels his duty is at their side. But slowly, as they survive the dangerous trek west, the perils of frontier life, and the kidnapping of their younger brother, Jim and his family realize that the only way to survive is to accept each other and truly reunite the family.
At the age of ten, Jim Keath had run away from his Missouri home to follow his Uncle Adam Russell into the mountains of the West. A bear’s attack separated Jim from his uncle, and though he killed the bear, it nearly killed him, too. Only the compassion of the Crow who found him and adopted him into their tribe saved Jim’s life. He spent the next six years with the Crow, before a vague sense of dissatisfaction sent him out into the mountains on his own. Trapping beaver with a friend, mountain man Tom Rivers, Jim wanders through the Rockies, unsure of what he seeks. Shortly before winter, a letter finds its way to Jim, from his younger brother Jonnie, who he hasn’t seen or heard from since he left home all those years before.
From the time I was three till I was thirteen, I spent every summer save one with my dad on the Mainland. He lived with my stepmother and my little sister in Portland, Oregon; Gina owned Beaverton Books, and then later worked for the Oregon Historical Society (don’t worry, this is relevant). My dad liked to think of himself as the Wild Man of the Western Wilderness, or at least, that was my perception; he had a lot of his identity and self-image tied up in the manly arts of fishing, backpacking, and camping (curiously, not hunting), and as a consequence, we took many camping trips on those summer visits.
We camped all over the West—at least, in what he considered the West (California was never a part of the equation, nor was the Southwes) exploring the Pacific Coast Ranges and the Rockies, both American and Canadian. Sometimes I hated it, the drudgery of campsite chores and the inconveniences of reading by flashlight, or cleaning dishes and going potty in the wilderness. But most of the time, I loved it. I loved seeing places utterly unlike Hawai’i (though I would invariably get irate when he’d disparage Hawaii’s mountain ranges; they’re DIFFERENT is all, Dad! Jeez!). I loved being so far from the civilized or developed world, miles and miles from the next human being. I loved the quiet, the sounds of the trees or the wind or a nearby crick, of animals moving through the brush (Is that Sasquatch?! RUN!). Read the rest of this entry »
O the Red Rose Tree by Patricia Beatty
William Morrow and Company, 3rd edition, 1972
Genre: Children’s literature, historical fiction
Synopsis & Review:When thirteen-year old Amanda Barnett and her friends Molly, Jessamine, and Euphemia meet the new neighbor Mrs Hankinson, they’re convinced she’s a witch. But her kindliness and fun spirit soon wins them over, just as her poverty, eccentricity, and pride alienate her from some of Nahcotta’s adults, including Amanda’s crotchety grandmother. To show up Grandma Barnett for her snobbery and rudeness, Amanda and the girls offer to help Mrs Hankinson find seven true reds so that she can make the quilt she’s dreamt of for the last sixty-three years of her life, the pattern O the Red Rose Tree–and in the bargain, show up Grandma by winning first prize at the County Fair.
Amanda has her shiftless but handsome brother Allen make a quiltframe for Mrs Hankinson while the girls work on finding seven different reds. On Washington’s Peninsula in 1983, this poses no small task, as the most common red in America is the cochineal-dyed Turkey red. Other than the ubiquitous Turkey red, all other true reds are European and very expensive, but where there’s a will, the girls will find a way. They will brave galloping pneumonia, Kissing John, shipwrecks, a flooded Portland, and do whatever it takes to help Mrs Hankinson.
This was the book I was looking for forever, and I must say, it was worth all the effort. Read the rest of this entry »