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The Sea Gulls Woke Me by Mary Stolz
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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.
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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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