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The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L.…

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place (2004)

by E. L. Konigsburg

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"I picked this up because I'd read several of Konigsburg's books when I was very young, and really liked them, esp. "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth" and "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler."
What struck me though, is that although this book is marketed as a kids' book, probably because that's what the author is known for, it really isn't. Although the protagonist is 12, the story is told from the point of view of an adult looking back at being 12, not from the point of view of a 12-year-old, and I think that really shows in the themes of the book.
The protagonist, Margaret's parents is sent to summer camp while her parents are away on a trip. She was looking forward to it, but when she turns out to be the 'new girl' in a cabin of girls who already know each other, things don't start out that well and they rapidly get worse. Luckily, one of her two eccentric bachelor uncles shows up to face down the unsympathetic camp director and rescue her from the bullying. Margaret's delighted, because she really wanted to spend the summer with her uncles anyway, helping them work on the amazing sculpture towers in their back yard. Unfortunately, neighborhood gentrification has set in, and the towers are scheduled for demolition. The uncles think the situation is hopeless, but Margaret can't just let it happen...
This is not a perfect book. The summer camp segment at the beginning is kinda typical; and too long. And I felt that the 'redemption' of the bullying girls later in the book is too easy, and doesn't 'ring true.'
However, I read the whole thing in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. And it really stands out as a novel for the author's refusal to make things black & white, or to go with the easy 'happy ending.' People here are nuanced, with shaded layers of motivations; we feel that they are real people, even when we only glimpse them in passing. It deals deftly and accurately with picturing a young woman's first feelings of love, shows that one can and must do something about issues that one cares about - but also acknowledges the reality that even when you 'win,' not everything is likely to be perfect.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Margaret Rose Kane quits summer camp, fed up with the repression of the place and her cabinmates' mind games. She stays instead with her two elderly, eccentric uncles. She learns that, due to urban development, the city intends to take down the impressive towers of pipes and crystal pendants that her uncles have created in their yard over the past 45 years. Margaret rallies the help of her uncles' former child neighbors who are now an art gallery owner and phone company executive. With their help, the pipe structure is moved to a hilltop where they serve as cell service towers.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This book had a fantastic beginning. The author is right on in describing how a camp experience can go terribly wrong, and how girls can play vicious mind games with each other in an attempt to be popular. As the story continued, my interest fizzled. I was still drawn to the author's portrayal of the 12 year-old main character and her quirky uncles, but the plot started to bore me. The ending was a real let down. After a slow build up, the ending was like crashing into a brick wall. It just stopped. It's like the author got tired of the story or ran out of pages. It's a shame for a book that started out so promising. ( )
  valorrmac | Aug 19, 2015 |
Frame is a memoir of young girl's experience (12 years old) when she helped her great-uncles save their "outsider art" constructions. Funny episodes, and tender emotions. It would do well as a DreamWorks movie, but there are some inconsistencies and elisions in the writing irritated me. Young people today would not get the historical references but would respond to the "outsider bullied by clique" aspect. ( )
  librisissimo | May 21, 2015 |
  mrsforrest | Oct 15, 2014 |
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This book is for David and for Jean,
who cheered its conception but sadly left it an orphan
before birth.
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Uncle Alex was sweating when he arrived at Camp Talequa.
I prefer not to.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689866372, Paperback)

Twelve year old Margaret Rose Kane is incorrigible. Not only does she refuse to bend to the will of her manipulative cabin mates at Camp Talequa, she stands up to and inadvertently insults the camp director and Queen-in-residence, Mrs. Kaplan. The intimidating and cruel confrontations that threaten to break Margaret's spririt only serve to strengthen her resolve, and everyone is happy when Margaret is finally banished/rescued from Camp Talequa. Luckily for her, with her parents in Peru, this means she can spend the rest of the summer with her delightfully eccentric Hungarian great-uncles, Alexander and Morris Rose. Margaret adores her great-uncles, and loves the house at 19 Schuyler Place--especially the three peculiar clock towers (tall painted structures covered in pendants made from broken china, crystal, bottles, jars, and clock parts) that the Rose brothers have been building for as long as she can remember. For Margaret and the Rose brothers, the towers represent beauty for beauty's sake--they sparkle in the sun and sing in the wind--they exist only to spread joy. Not everyone loves the towers however, and forty-five years after the birth of the project, the city council declares the towers "unsafe," and demands that they be dismantled and destroyed. Filled with the same fiery resolve that helped her survive Camp Talequa, Margaret (with the help of a handyman named Jake, a loyal dog named Tartufo, and few other unexpected allies) launches a plan to save the towers in the name of art, history, and beauty.

A companion novel to the award-winning author's acclaimed Silent to the Bone, Outcasts is strikingly unique, incredibly interesting, and, with references to "Bartleby the Scrivener", and the rose windows of Notre Dame, exceptionally literary. In other words, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place is vintage Konigsburg. This quirky masterpiece will be enjoyed by young fans of Konigsburg’s other erudite works, and Polly Horvath’s The Canning Season.. (Ages 10 and older)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:32 -0400)

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Upon leaving an oppressive summer camp, twelve-year-old Margaret Rose Kane spearheads a campaign to preserve three unique towers her great-uncles have been building in their backyard for more than forty years.

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