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This Is Graceanne's Book: A Novel by P. L.…

This Is Graceanne's Book: A Novel

by P. L. Whitney

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    Singing Songs by Meg Tilly (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Books with child protagonists making sense of their lives in abusive households.

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Charlie ("Thumper") Farrand is the narrator of this coming-of-age story, set in a small town on the river in the 1960s. Charlie is the youngest in the family, with two older sisters, Kentucky and Graceanne (whom he adores). Graceanne is the smartest of them, but her spirit seems to enrage her mother Edie, who is trying to cope with raising the three children on her own. Edie takes her anger out on Graceanne, while Graceanne refuses to be brought down. She fills notebooks with imaginative stories and hides them under her bed, where Charlie finds them and beomes enthralled with them.
I found the underlying motive of the story to be the remarkable strength of the human spirit, as Graceanne will not allow herself to be broken, and in that, she gives hope to her little brother. A wonderful book--highly recommended! ( )
  tloeffler | Aug 15, 2010 |
This story of the Farrand family is told from the perspective of Charlie Farrand, the youngest of the three Farrand children. It takes place during 1960-61 in a small Missouri town along the Mississippi River (or as the children refer to it, the Big Muddy Cruddy). The Farrand children don't have an easy life. Their father is often absent, and their mother has a bad temper. They are poor and often do without. But the Farrand children are tough. Charlie's older sisters, Graceanne and Kentucky, watch out for him and clearly love him, even as they are "whaling" on him.

Whitney captures the world in which the Farrands live beautifully, with attention to the small details that typify the lives of kids. She also does justice to the complexities of the relationships between the Farrand children (especially Graceanne) and their mother. The book is believably told through Charlie's eyes, and his perspective helps us understand each of the characters a bit better.

This is not an easy book to read. I often wished that the Farrand children had an easier life. But beneath the difficult times is a sense of hope and strength that comes from the close relationships the three children have with each other. ( )
  porch_reader | Aug 13, 2010 |
Nine-year-old Charlie, the earnest observer of all things Graceanne, his 12-year-old sister, is the narrator of this memorable book about the resiliency of childhood. It is 1960 and the Farrand family is living in Cranepool's Landing, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Dad is a drinker who is absent much of the time and Mom is a control freak who takes her many frustrations out on Graceanne with her weapon of choice, a wire coat hanger.

Graceanne is an enigma -- tough in most ways but terrified of the neighbor's friendly dog. She has the IQ of a genius, but she continually provokes her mother into the frequent beatings euphemistically called "taking her medicine." Graceanne copes with her family position of scapegoat by unleashing her vivid imagination in the diary she hides under the bed and retreating to her safe place by the river.

The Mississippi River runs through this book providing entertainment, adventure, peace, danger, and harsh beauty. The kids call it Big Muddy Cruddy, but it is much more than a catchy name. It's a sacred place that honors secrets where Graceanne goes to find refuge and escape from the inconceivable pain of her life.

I don't want to give the wrong impression. There are many lighthearted parts to this book, but much of it deals with the abomination of child abuse. Thank goodness some children like Charlie and Graceanne have indomitable spirits. My heart breaks for the others who are worn down by cruelty and perpetuate the cycle of abuse. ( )
10 vote Donna828 | Aug 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312272782, Paperback)

The story is told by a nine-year old boy, Charlie, who observes with an encompassing awe a pivotal year in the life of his older sister Graceanne. She's loud, intellectual and a ruthless physical and psychological daredevil, a girl whose ferocious exploits are the stuff of local legend and the stuff of all that Charlie aspires to be. He narrates Graceanne's painful passage into teenage, a passage made tempestuous by their violent mother.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The coming of age of two poor children in 1960s Mississippi, one a dynamic girl, the other her awed brother who narrates. The novel describes an ice-carving experiment to turn the baby Jesus into a "Negro," as well as their system of childhood justice which sets aside the weak as "dead kids."… (more)

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