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The Sea Gulls Woke Me by Mary Stolz

The Sea Gulls Woke Me (1951)

by Mary Stolz

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I read The Sea Gulls Woke Me when I was sixteen (the same age as the woefully awkward protagonist, Jean) and it made me believe that I could survive adolescence. Poor Jean is a social zero, with a headful of frumpy braids because her mother won't hear of her cutting her hot, heavy masses of long hair ("Your crowning glory, Jean!"). She finally gets a date to a dance and the boy is an unkind, ill-mannered loser, and, sweet Jesus, her dress is taupe. (Taupe! I hated her mother for buying that awful dress. And then her dad, trying to make it better, produces a corsage of red roses for her! *cringes*) The inevitable social disaster ensues, but Jean's total social defeat finally convinces her overprotective mother to allow her to visit her uncle on an island in Maine for the summer; the uncle runs an inn largely staffed by college kids.

Jean has a chance to re-invent herself, and she does. That's really the whole story, but the book had a wonderful perk for me personallY: in the process, her friend Mona gives voice to a tidbit of wisdom that altered my entire perspective on life (I still think about it, actually). I won't tell you what it is: see if you can find it for yourself. But first, find a copy of this utterly lovely book, and good luck with that: it's out of print. ( )
  2chances | Jan 7, 2010 |
I keep coming back to this book for mostly sentimental reasons, but the writing is good enough that every time I'm pleasantly surprised. Some of the writing is so lyrical - particularly when Ms. Stolz is describing the island. Other parts are a bit "self-conscious" - much like teens who are thinking "deep thoughts". I love watching Jean blossoming out from under her mother's protectiveness. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Sep 3, 2009 |
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For Aunty and Uncle
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The bell rang, and the forty-odd students in Room 1213, Literature II-B, struck for freedom.
The sort of days when you try with ever fiber to know each minute, so that sometime, long later, you will be able to say, "It's gone, but I knew it when I had it, when the island was my home, and every morning the seagulls woke me."
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An overprotected unpopular sixteen-year-old girl travels alone for the first time to spend the summer at her aunt and uncle's Maine hotel. Here she joins a group of college student help and, as a member of the group, takes a big step toward confidence and maturity.
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