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The Member of the Wedding by Carson…

The Member of the Wedding (edition 2004)

by Carson McCullers

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1,824303,831 (3.87)138
An absolutely lovely performance by narrator, Susan Sarandon! What a heartrending, beautifully written story of adolescent angst! Meet Frances Jasmine Adams, aka Frankie, aka F. Jasmine (pronounced Jasmeen) Adams, depending on her mood at the moment. Accompany this 12 year old girl on the excruciating emotional journey from childhood to the cusp of adulthood, and lose your heart to her and her cousin, John Henry, and the family cook, Berniece. Her brother's wedding is the occasion, her desire to be a member of anything rather than continue "unjoined" is her state of being, and her yearning motivates her dreams, wishes and near tragic bad choices. I felt like I was walking beside her through the entire story. Great literature! ( )
  hemlokgang | Apr 13, 2012 |
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I think McCullers is an acquired taste, like olives and mushrooms. Fortunately for me, I've acquired a taste for all three.

Our heroine, Frankie, is 12, bored, out-of-sorts, and hot in her small Southern town. All she has to look forward to during this draggingly long summer is her brother's wedding. And look forward to it she does!

As Frankie is a complete innocent, she believes that she not only will be a part of the wedding, but will blithely accompany her brother and his new bride on their honeymoon (and presumably for the rest of their lives).

Okay, that seems an absurd premise and that Frankie is simply a figure of fun. Not so. McCullers shows Frankie's slow awakening to things only dimly understood as she wanders around town, completely without escort or guidance. The book is divided in two parts; the second part turns quite a bit darker as this girl ventures into places where she doesn't belong, makes mistakes, and shows a fairly alarming streak of anger in her character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it's not for everyone. It's weird and McCullers' view of life is distinctly off-kilter. Still, recommended for those who enjoy Southern Gothic or the off-beat. ( )
  bohemima | Jan 29, 2015 |
One August, during the dog days of summer, 12-year-old Frankie's soldier brother Jarvis comes home from military service in Alaska to marry his fiancee, Janice. Frankie, now calling herself F. Jasmine, becomes obsessed with her brother's wedding, and she is determined to go away with her brother and his new wife after the wedding. F. Jasmine will tell this to anyone who will listen to her, which really boils down to her African American housekeeper Berenice and her 6-year-old cousin John Henry. It's obvious from the beginning that this will not end well.


Frankie/F. Jasmine/Frances is at an awkward period in her development. She no longer considers herself a child, but adults still treat her as a child. It's normal to feel lonely and left out at that age. It is not normal act out on those feelings with kitchen knives or loaded pistols. I didn't identify with Frankie; I was scared of her. I felt the absence of parental authority and guidance. Frankie's father is barely present in the novel. I'm not sure what responsibility Berenice has for Frankie. She makes suggestions about what Frankie should do, but she doesn't seem to have the authority to make Frankie do anything or to restrict her movements. Frankie is uncomfortable with her sexuality, and this is projected onto her cat, Charles/Charlina, and onto John Henry, who plays dress-up in women's clothes and plays with Frankie's doll. Frances latches onto her new friend, Mary Littlejohn, with the same fervency she exhibited for the wedding. I'm left with a feeling of dread about how this relationship will end. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jan 25, 2015 |
This is a Southern coming-of-age story told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old who is to be in her brother's wedding and wishes to "stow away" on his honeymoon. Important characters were developed as they should have been and one gets a sense of how each relates to the main character of F. Jasmine. While I recognize the literary merit of the book, I felt a little dissatisfaction in the end with the overall story. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 13, 2015 |
This southern fiction classic is a dreamy, hazy meandering walk through an unnamed southern town in an unnamed southern state (although I suspect it to be the author's home state of Georgia) through the eyes of an imaginative 12-year old during World War II. The characters were developed superbly and the use of language was creative and unexpected. With all the focus on The Help these days, it is hard not to pay attention to the characterization of Berenice, the family's black maid, and her relationship to Frankie and John Henry. These relationships were central to the story. McCullers presents Berenice with a genuineness and honesty that would have been difficult to achieve in a contemporary work of southern fiction. McCullers was writing about her times at the time and this results in less cliche and, instead, feels very real. ( )
  kellifrobinson | Nov 25, 2014 |

Coming-of-age tales remain among my favorite types of literature. In the past, I devoured them with insatiable hunger. But never in all my reading have I seen the loss of childhood described with such painstaking devastation as in The Member of the Wedding. McCullers lays out F. Jasmine's agonies before the reader in exquisite detail, many of them poured forth in molasses-stretched moments as F. Jasmine huddles around the kitchen table in the fading twilight with her cohorts Berenice and John Henry, both of whom she loves and loathes, in that special moody way of early adolescence.

Reading The Member of the Wedding made me physically ill at some points. It was as if I were reliving the shattering of my own youthful innocence under the merciless hammers we never see coming when we are young. The excruciation burned particularly hard while watching in my mind as F. Jasmine walked through the Blue Moon upstairs to that room. With my faith in humanity as it is, always resting on a twitchy teeter-totter, wavering between none and some, this scene slammed down hard on the none side, sending the hard wooden plank rushing up to collide with my chin. As I rubbed my throbbing jaw, I thought about how hard it is to grow up in this world, to remain unmarred by some flawed adult's selfish motives.

Though McCullers drags F. Jasmine through tragic circles, she leaves her in a tentative upswing at the end. This surprised me a little, and yet when I think about the last passages, I see more heartbreak and frustration ahead for her. For though she weathered a few brutal storms, she still lives very much in her own head. And I know what trouble that can bring, far into the years to come. ( )
1 vote S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
I keep saying this, but then I keep not following my own advice: I have to stop reading books about annoying teenagers. So Frankie, the main character, was annoying, though her troubles and her lack of ability to name her affliction is certainly one that I could understand and somewhat relate to.

McCullers really captures the unending, slow, suffocating summer in the South, where there isn't much to do but to sit around and play cards in the kitchen and talk about the same things over and over again. She also captures the indescribable urgency that Frankie feels when her brother's wedding is announced. Perhaps what McCullers does best is to name this thing a thousand different things as Frankie tries to explain it to herself and the people around her, family and strangers alike.

The book follows the pattern of Frankie's existence, starting off slow, purposeless, and idle and slowly picking up speed as Frankie feels the pressure to break free of the cage she find herself in. McCullers speaks the sensibility and frame of mind of the people in a small town during the war without explaining anything but by just letting them exist, do, and talk. Everything about the story and the characters feel organic and though there aren't any surprises, the book is ultimately heartbreaking. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Charming coming-of-age story. The primary reason I didn't give this 5 stars is that I found some aspects of Frankie's character unfathomable - her fear (terror) just didn't ring completely true to me. McCullers' theme of searching for connections & belonging is similar to those in her masterpiece [b:The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|37380|The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|Carson McCullers|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1168914678s/37380.jpg|860196] and her skillful dialogue again delights. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
This is one of those books I probably should reread because I was not much older than the protagonist when I first read it. I'm sure I would get a lot more out of it now with more life experience behind me. Then again if I reread everything I shall never finish the 1000 (or really 1070) books on the list! ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
I know I should at least give this 3 stars, or 4 stars. The prose was amazing as ever. But it was such a letdown, and I'm not feeling generous at the moment.

This is the story of Frankie Addams, a 12 year old girl at the end of the summer, about to attend her brother's wedding. I don't know about you, but I feel like Frankie was me when I was 12 years old. I was questioning my place in the world.
"She was afraid of these things that made her suddenly wonder who she was, and what she was going to be in the world, and why she was standing at that minute, seeing a light, or listening, or staring up into the sky: alone."
And Frankie, she did all sorts of things during her summer, but she couldn't help but feel that there was something missing. She was restless, and no matter what she did, it wasn't what she wanted to do. Then comes her brother and his fiance, and she falls in love with the couple. Finally, she sees this as an opportunity to leave her hometown and become a part of something, no longer alone.

I really liked Frankie's insights (see added quotes).
"There are all these people here I don't know by sight or by name. And we pass alongside each other and don't have any connection. And they don't know me and I don't know them. And now I'm leaving town and there are all these people I will never know."
Perhaps this is my favorite quote of them all, because this was exactly what I was contemplating a while back. There are so many people in the world, in my hometown there's at least a thousand, and I will never know most of them. It leaves a queer feeling, that I want to be connected to these people.

But to tell the truth, I thought this was a growing up story. If growing up meant being disillusioned, then Frankie grew up in a most disheartening way. I felt that the book stopped abruptly, and I'm not a fan of endings where things were going great, but then it didn't and it just stopped. It was a 150-pages book, and I don't know why McCullers would just end like that. It's like she was even more melancholic than when she wrote [b:The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|37380|The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|Carson McCullers|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1168914678s/37380.jpg|860196]. Look, I want to be inspired, not dejected. Killing off John Henry like that, and Frankie turning into plain Frances and just letting life pass her by. Where's the big epiphany? That life sucks? I was already aware of that.

And I guess my problem also lies in that I liked the melancholy that was The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and by the time I read The Member of the Wedding I no longer wanted to read another melancholic novel. At least the former novel had redeeming qualities. The Member of the Wedding read too much like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, with only a "Mick Kelly" as the protagonist.

Sure, it's unfair to judge this book by its predecessor, but I can't help it. The Member of the Wedding is another novel about human isolation, and McCullers already succeeded with [b:The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|37380|The Heart is a Lonely Hunter|Carson McCullers|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1168914678s/37380.jpg|860196].
( )
  qquiet | Apr 2, 2013 |
Ow, my heart. ( )
  kgib | Mar 31, 2013 |
"I know this is a book beloved by many but if it weren't so short I would not have bothered to finish it despite the beautiful language."
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/member-of-wedding-carson-mccullers... ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Sep 27, 2012 |
An absolutely lovely performance by narrator, Susan Sarandon! What a heartrending, beautifully written story of adolescent angst! Meet Frances Jasmine Adams, aka Frankie, aka F. Jasmine (pronounced Jasmeen) Adams, depending on her mood at the moment. Accompany this 12 year old girl on the excruciating emotional journey from childhood to the cusp of adulthood, and lose your heart to her and her cousin, John Henry, and the family cook, Berniece. Her brother's wedding is the occasion, her desire to be a member of anything rather than continue "unjoined" is her state of being, and her yearning motivates her dreams, wishes and near tragic bad choices. I felt like I was walking beside her through the entire story. Great literature! ( )
  hemlokgang | Apr 13, 2012 |
Oh my word. "To Kill a Mockingbird" this was NOT.

I guess Frankie had Asperger's Syndrome. Or bipolar disorder. I hope she had mental illness or some legitimate excuse for her crazy behavior.

I wanted her brother and his bride to run her over with their honeymoon car and put both Frankie and myself out of our misery! ( )
  FutureMrsJoshGroban | Jun 9, 2011 |
Only 163 pages, but oh! so powerful. ( )
  mthelibrarian | Nov 22, 2010 |
"Frankie lives in a small town in Georgia during World War II. Loneliness surrounds her. Her mother died during childbirth with her, so she has never had a mother or siblings. Her father works a lot and when he is home, he is in his own world of books and newspapers, and really doesn’t pay her much attention...."
  SFCC | Jun 11, 2010 |
Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding is such a strange little book. I loved some parts and didn’t love other parts. It revolves around Frankie Addams, who is twelve and a half years old. For me this was a really significant age, and I think the book does a great job of encapsulating the feelings and experiences associated with that age: Frankie’s no longer a child, yet she’s not yet a woman. She feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere, and she’s trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. So the first thing I loved about The Member of the Wedding was its theme, although I think some would criticize it for not having much of a traditional plot.

The second thing I loved about The Member of the Wedding was its setting. Frankie lives in a small town in Georgia during World War II. Loneliness surrounds her. Her mother died during childbirth with her, so she has never had a mother or siblings. Her father works a lot and when he is home, he is in his own world of books and newspapers, and really doesn’t pay her much attention. Her only good girl friend moved away, and she’s not a member of the “club” of popular girls at her school. She used to be part of it at one time, but as she got a bit older it’s clear that she’s different from those girls. Sexual identity is explored in the book: Frankie wants to be a pretty, grown woman, but, with her dirty elbows, her crew cut, and her hyper (some would say obnoxious) personality, in many ways she looks and acts more like a boy.

The Member of the Wedding takes place during the summer, so Frankie’s not in school and she spends her days hanging out at home—mostly in the kitchen—with her black housekeeper Berenice and her seven-year-old cousin John Henry. The constant kitchen setting causes the book to lag and feel like it’s dragging on; I think I would have liked it even better if it was a long short story or an even shorter novel. At the same time, the drawn-out kitchen scenes show Frankie’s daily life and how it’s filled with boredom yet comfort. (“They sat together in the kitchen, and the kitchen was a sad and ugly room. John Henry had covered the walls with queer, child drawings, as far up as his arm would reach. This gave the kitchen a crazy look, like that of a room in the crazy-house. And now the old kitchen made Frankie sick. The name for what had happened to her Frankie did not know, but she could feel her squeezed heart beating against the table edge.”)

Frankie longs for change and adventure, and at the same time she longs to fit in with someone somewhere. (“The spring of that year had been a long queer season. Things began to change and Frankie did not understand this change. After the plain gray winter the March winds banged on the windowpanes, and clouds were shirred and white on the blue sky. April that year came sudden and still, the green of the trees was a wild bright green. The pale wistarias bloomed all over town, and silently the blossoms shattered. There was something about the green trees and the flowers of April that made Frankie sad. She did not know why she was sad, but because of this peculiar sadness, she began to realize she ought to leave the town. She read the war news and thought about the world and packed her suitcase to go away; but she did not know where she should go.”)

All of this leads up to Frankie’s recent obsession: running away with her brother and his fiance after they get married. She has been invited to be in their wedding, and she is so happy to “belong” to something that she really gets very carried away in a fantasy of living a new life in a new place with the newlyweds. She changes to her name to “F. Jasmine,” she finds a pretty pink dress that her father buys her for the wedding, and she goes around town telling everyone her plan to move away with her brother and soon-to-be-sister-in-law. All dressed up for the wedding and on the verge of womanhood, she looks much older, and is invited out on a date with a soldier, which she accepts with a mixture of hesitation and excitement.

What I didn’t love about The Member of the Wedding is that there’s a lot of slow build-up without too much action or delivery. Most of the book takes place over just a couple days, but they feel like years. (I guess that’s how it feels for a twelve-and-a-half year old, too!) I enjoyed the scenes featuring Frankie, Berenice and John Henry in the kitchen, savoring delicious-sounding Southern food and talking about everything from love to race relations to what they would change about the world if they were God. (“Now hopping-john was F. Jasmine’s very favorite food. She had always warned them to wave a plate of rice and peas before her nose when she was in her coffin, to make certain there was no mistake; for if a breath of life was left in her, she would sit up and eat, but if she smelled the hopping-john, and did not stir, then they could just nail down the coffin and be certain she was truly dead. Now Berenice had chose for her death-test a piece of fried fresh-water trout, and for John Henry it was divinity fudge.”)

After awhile, though, I was anxious to have Frankie get out there and experience the real world. I suppose that that was the point of writing the book like that, so the reader could feel what life was like for Frankie. Although it may appear to an outsider—even the reader—that not much is going on, to Frankie, a lot is happening. She is bored and excited, fearless and fearful, lonely and comfortable with the familiar, happy and sad and up and down. That’s all because she’s at the crazy in-between age of twelve and a half. I loved that about Frankie but at other times she seemed very contradicting and hard to figure out. At one moment she would seem so thoughtful and mature, and the next moment she would be stomping her feet and saying cruel things to the people she loved, and seeming very immature and annoying. I guess, again, that’s because of her age and her transitioning. At times Frankie–or F. Jasmine–is confused about her own expressions and mannerisms. At one point she is upset with Berenice for not telling her about a grown-up matter, but happy with Berenice for ironing the little pleats around the collar of her pink wedding dress. “She would have liked for her expression to be split into two parts, so that one eye stared at Berenice in an accusing way, and the other eye thanked her with a grateful look. But the human face does not divide like this, and the two expressions canceled out each other.”

What I absolutely loved about The Member of the Wedding was its language. McCullers has a way of describing the small, even mundane, things in life in a completely lovely and relatable way, and then of course she describes the big, mind-blowing things in life the same way. (“The twilight was white, and it lasted for a long while. Time in August could be divided into four parts: morning, afternoon, twilight, and dark. At twilight the sky became a curious blue-green which soon faded to white. The air was soft gray, and the arbor and tress were slowly darkening. It was the hour when sparrows gathered and whirled above the rooftops of the town, and when in the darkened elms along the street there was the August sound of the cicadas. Noises at twilight had a blurred sound, and they lingered: the slam of a screen door down the street, voices of children, the whir of a lawnmower from a yard somewhere.”)

For me this book is best read all at once if possible. When I put it down and picked it back up it seemed rather boring, like not much was happening, but when I read whole parts straight through, I became so wrapped up in the language and tone that it felt magical. I would like to read this book again when I have time to read it all in one day or weekend. Although I really liked it the first time around, I was trying to cram it in, in between selling my fiance’s house, renting out my house, moving into a new house, planning a wedding, traveling to Vegas, etc. It seems to me to be one of those books that gets better with re-reading.

The tone and strangeness of The Member of the Wedding reminded me in some ways of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, while the age and oddity of the narrator reminded me of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Jonathan Safron Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This book is certainly unique, though, and stands out as something entirely of McCullers’s creation. It’s the first book I’ve read by her and I look forward to reading The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

For more book reviews and other posts of interest to readers and writers, please visit my blog, Voracia: Goddess of Words. ( )
2 vote voracia | Apr 30, 2010 |
Frankie provides our eyes and ears for A Member of the Wedding and what a view she gives us readers! Frankie is poised on the edge of childhood and adulthood, that awful spot we now call adolescence, but she is not sitting quietly on the edge; she is teetering back and forth between the worlds and it is not a happy place to be. She has lost her connections to her world. There are only two who try to call her back into the world: Berenice, the housekeeper, and her cousin, John Henry. As Frankie questions the world, Berenice is the voice of the grownup world, trying to ease Frankie into the new world. At the same time, John Henry is the voice of Frankie's childhood, urging her to play, to experience the world, to forget the world of thinking. Frankie's one hope becomes her desire to escape and join her brother and his new wife after their wedding. Of course, this does not happen and Frankie goes back to her world, but she is not the same person she once was. What a rich, marvelous book! I could read it all over again and I think I would love it just as much. Frankie's encounter with the soldier...the monkey and the monkey owner...the Freaks....the noises and the pictures the author draws of this world...a rich, rich story. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
The book, The Member of the Wedding, is a classic. It focuses on the same problems of today's YAs: the awkwardness of being an adolescence and yet the possibility of living your dreams, humiliation, rejection, and the awakening experience of growing from an adolescent to the harsh reality of being an adult.
  jasusc | Nov 28, 2008 |
Posted at:


As I shamefully admitted a couple of weeks ago, when one of my reading group suggested we read something by Carson McCullers I looked around bemused and asked, “Who?” Having done a bit of background research before beginning The Member of the Wedding I feel slightly better about this. I realise that I was just too young to have read it when it was ‘the’ book that teens and young twenties were reading and the fact that it has just been re-issued in a Vintage Classics edition perhaps suggests that there hasn’t been much of a stir about McCuller at least in the UK since then. Which, if it is true, is a shame, because this is a very fine piece of writing indeed.
Twelve year old Frankie lives with her father in a small town somewhere in the Southern States. Her mother having died when she was born, the only real female influence in her life has been Berenice, the Black woman who comes in each day to help out. The majority of the book covers just two days at the close of a sultry August at the end of the Second World War. Frankie’s elder brother, Jarvis, is home on leave and the family are preparing to travel to celebrate his wedding to Janice at her home in Winter Hill. Frankie is in that traumatic stage between childhood and adolescence when knowing who you are and where you belong changes if not quite from minute to minute, then certainly from hour to hour. No longer able to relate comfortably to her small cousin, John Henry, she is leaving behind childish things, but doesn’t yet fit into the world of the teenage girls whose group she longs to join. Her body is betraying her mind and emotions and she is like those leggy Labradors who are neither puppy nor dog, but all flying feet and loose limbs which they can’t quite control. Understandably, she feels isolated and afraid. Hence her passionate desire to become a Member of the Wedding, to be taken into the family that her brother and his fiancé will be creating as an equal partner. That she can even think this is possibly is evidence of how far from being an adult she still is but that is not how she sees it. She imagines the three of them taking off around the world and her life finding a stability which at present it lacks.
Frankie is searching for an identity. She has lost all sense of who she was and has no idea as to who she is to become.
Very early in the morning she would sometimes go out into the yard and stand for a long time looking at the sunrise sky. And it was as though a question came into her heart, and the sky did not answer. Things she had never noticed much before began to hurt her: home lights watched from the evening sidewalks, an unknown voice from an alley. She would stare at the lights and listen to the voice, and something inside her stiffened and waited. But the lights would darken, the voice fall silent, and though she waited, that was all. She was afraid of these things that made her suddenly wonder who she was, and what she was going to be in the world, and why she was standing at that minute, seeing a light, or listening, or staring up into the sky: alone. She was afraid and there was a queer tightness in her chest.
McCullers is brilliant at creating characters in whom we entirely believe. Even at a distance of over forty years I can remember feelings that were not dissimilar to those expressed by Frankie and a friend who first read it when she was eighteen said quite simply, “I thought she was writing my story.” Also superbly drawn is Berenice. I’m guessing here, but I imagine that writing such a sympathetic portrait of a Black servant, a portrait that shows her to have a great deal more practical common sense than anyone else we encounter, would have had an element of controversy about it in the 1940s; it certainly helps to give a timeless quality to the book today.
Most impressive about this author’s writing, however, is her use of language. Time and again I found myself jotting down phrases that I would be hard pressed to explain precisely but which I understood through some sense more fundamental than any words. There are, for example, multiple images to do with music - a jazz sadness quivered her nerves - and a turning pointin the story comes when Frankie becomes aware of a silence that stands in stark contrast to the world to which she is used.
This is a book I am really grateful to have read. I’m told that the rest of McCuller’s output is much bleaker. Does anyone know if that’s the case? I do want to read more of her work, but this was quite an emotional roller-coaster and I may have to put some space between it and other novels if they are indeed going to ask even more in terms of empathy and compassion.
1 vote ann163125 | Apr 8, 2008 |
3144. The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers (read Jan. 4, 1999) I saw this book listed on a list called "Outstanding Books for the College-Bound" and it was one of the few books thereon which I had not read, so I thought I should--tho it is awhile since I was college-bound. I found this book, tho superbly written, not too interesting. The central character's odd behavior did not excite my concern. I decided I should have read this book in 1955, when I read McCullers' The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. ( )
  Schmerguls | Dec 8, 2007 |
Twelve-year-old Frankie is fed up with her small town life where the only things that change are for the worse. Then one day, her brother announces he is getting married and the next two weeks take Frankie on a whirlwind as she becomes obsessed with the wedding and the new life she could have if her brother and his wife would only take her with them. This coming of age story was beautifully written. I was drawn into McCuller's world, smelling the smells and feeling the heat. Even though this is such a short book, it was a slow, leisurely read. I found myself stopping and savouring the scenes before I could start to read again. This book leaves me with a wistful, melancholy feeling. This is my second McCuller's book and I rather enjoy her not-so-happy endings. Recommended. ( )
  ElizaJane | Oct 16, 2007 |
This was an NPR recommendation that I picked up on a whim. McCullers has a really unique voice. This particular story is that of a pre-teen girl, wanting to be more (more interesting, have more friends, have a better life, anything), and creating her own reality in which the impossible could happen. I has really impressed with both the realism of the character, and McCullers' gift for making you understand exactly what the character is going through. It's like being eleven again. ( )
  aliciamalia | Oct 8, 2007 |

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  hilla | Jul 14, 2007 |
Twelve-year-old Frankie Adams, longing at once for escape and belonging, takes her role as "member of the wedding" to mean that when her older brother marries she will join the happy couple in their new life together. But Frankie is unlucky in love; her mother is dead, and Frankie narrowly escapes being raped by a drunken soldier during a farewell tour of the town. Worst of all, "member of the wedding" doesn't mean what she thinks. A gorgeous, brief coming-of-age novel.

From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Kirsten Backstrom
In Carson McCullers' writing, every word evokes the tragic and miraculous emotional truths of ordinary experience. Her characters are complex, even weird, but feel entirely genuine; her scenes are accessible even when they aren't familiar. In The Member of the Wedding, Frankie Adams is hungry for escape, hungry for belonging; it is her peculiar resolution to this classic adolescent paradox that makes her unique. Frankie finds a new identity in her determination to become an integral part of her brother's wedding: "At last she knew just who she was and understood where she was going. She loved her brother and the bride and she was a member of the wedding. The three of them would go into the world and they would always be together." This fantasy transforms Frankie's twelve-year old perspective on herself, her relationships, and her small southern hometown. Her inevitable disillusionment and ultimate survival seem almost mythical, yet the tale is told in the simplest terms. The ongoing conversations in the hot kitchen between Frankie, her cousin John Henry, and the cook Berenice resonate with social and personal authenticity. This is a story to be read and reread, to be heard and felt and trusted. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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  rwhowell | Jun 20, 2007 |
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