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Crossing the Tracks

by Barbara Stuber

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1267216,536 (3.96)1
In Missouri in 1926, fifteen-year-old Iris Baldwin discovers what family truly means when her father hires her out for the summer as a companion to a country doctor's invalid mother.

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Crossing the Tracks is a heartwarming book that combines humor with tragedy to tell the story of Iris – a fifteen-year-old girl sent away by her father to serve as a housekeeper for an elderly woman in rural Missouri, while her father focuses upon his business and fiancée in Kansas City. Although Iris faces her new responsibilities with uncertainty, she quickly finds the warmth, compassion, and understanding amongst the elderly woman that were lacking in Iris’ relationship with her father since her mother’s death ten years earlier. Set in 1926, this book is an effective example of historical fiction, showing what life was like in a rural area during that time period (i.e. cars and electricity are just becoming popular). Script-font letters from Iris to her friend, father, and soon-to-be stepmother are sprinkled throughout the book, adding intrigue and entertainment. Although it is sometimes difficult to keep the characters straight while reading the book, they are well-developed. The readers feel for the characters emotionally and are quickly swept up into the plot and suspense of the story. Themes within the book include: love, family, heartbreak, and forgiveness. The book is highly recommended for libraries to add to their young adult sections. ( )
  CarolineBraden | Nov 29, 2013 |
My only complaint is that it should have been longer to more fully develop the quirky Olive, the menacing Cecil and the artist with whom we can only assume the Doctor was in love. Such a way with words has Barbara Stuber: she knows how to gently turn a phrase into a succinct and beautiful commentary. ( )
  quirkylibrarian | Jul 23, 2012 |
Set in 1926, this is the gentle story of teenaged Iris Baldwin, sent away by her ambitious businessman father (as he prepares to open up a Kansas City shoe store and remarry)to be a companion to an elderly woman, Mrs. Nesbitt, whose son is a busy doctor. Iris's mother died some years before, a victim of T.B. Her father has had little interest in her since. With the Nesbits, Iris finds love and family. A gentle romance develops between her and childhood friend Leroy, who comes to visit her at the Nesbits whenever he can. The author writes well, though I admit that I dislike reading novels told in the unfolding present tense as this one is. I'm not sure why the author made the decision to tell it in this way, unless it was to enliven an essentially quiet story. Interestingly, the author is daring enough to include a rough character, Dot, apparently impregnated by her cruel moonshine-drinking father--whom Mrs. Nesbit and Iris attempt to spirit off and save. As well, the author implies that Dr. Avery Nesbit has a male artist lover in New York. All is fairly subtly and gracefully managed by the author. I'm not sure that the story has enough "umph" for the average teen girl reader. I liked the book enough to finish it and suspect that there might be some special readers for this book. Would I purchase or re-read it? No. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Jul 5, 2011 |
For those of you who, like me, love the character of Mattie in A Northern Light and Anne ("with an e") of Anne of Green Gables, I think you will also love fifteen-year-old Iris in this lovely coming-of-age story set in 1926 Missouri.

Iris Baldwin’s mother died when she was 5. She barely remembers her, especially because her father will not talk about her. In fact, her father barely interacts at all with Iris, preferring to spend time at his successful shoe store and with his latest (and much younger) girlfriend, Celeste. The only one Iris really has to talk to is her friend Leroy, who, two years older than Iris, even had to tell her the facts of life when she was thirteen!

Iris discovers by accident that her father is planning to send her away for the summer. He hired Iris out to a Dr. Avery Nesbitt to be a live-in caretaker for his elderly mother.

Iris is hurt, but soon finds the warmth and support with the Nesbitts that she never received in her own home. In a sense, she is like the battered stray dog Marie that arrives when Iris does. Both Iris and Marie blossom in the care of the Nesbitts. Iris gets involved with their lives and the lives of the neighbors, finding to her surprise that “the more you belong with people, the more there is to do.”

And as she learns about what love and forgiveness really mean, she learns how to fold heartbreak and tragedy inside that love, and “aim high. Help hobos and strays. Dust the people you love. When lost, use the stars.”

Evaluation: I can’t say enough positive about this heartwarming book. Nor can I imagine how anyone could not love Iris, the Nesbitts, Leroy, and Marie. I think this is a book you’ll consider a life-long favorite. ( )
1 vote nbmars | Feb 27, 2011 |
Good characters, but too subtle for my taste. ( )
  abbylibrarian | Dec 23, 2010 |
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In Missouri in 1926, fifteen-year-old Iris Baldwin discovers what family truly means when her father hires her out for the summer as a companion to a country doctor's invalid mother.

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