Thursday, January 12, 2006

Harry Sue

Ok. The yellow covered arc of this book sat on my bedside table for close to a year. I had no idea what the book was about. I hated the title. Jen had given it to me and told me it was more my age range. I didn't pick it up until some banter on yalsa-bk let on that a couple people favoured it for Newbery. While I still think that Penderwicks is going to run away with it, I am very glad to have read Harry Sue.

This is a book of characters. Wild characters, ripped from the headlines and then tossed together into a school, family and neighbourhood. Harry Sue is left to live with "Granny", after a fight at home caused her father to literally throw her out the window...from the seventh story. Mom got busted leaving her meth lab on the coffee table when police came to investigate. Granny runs the daycare "Granny's Lap", and in her mind Harry Sue is just a kid who is taking up space that someone would pay for. Granny is Roald Dahl-esque in her evilness, and as an adult reader I found myself appalled at her actions.

Harry Sue's best friend is Christopher...whom she calls Homer Price due to his inventing abilities. Homer took a swan dive off the bridge in town and managed to break his neck.

Harry Sue is doing her best to groom herself into a criminal. She figures that is the only way she will ever get to find her mom. Homer is doing his own time...up in his tree house, willing leaves to fall.

Enter substitute teacher Baba, physiotherapist J-Cat, Hammerhead and the other crumbsnatchers, and there is quite a story.

Harry Sue herself is quite taken with the story The Wizard of Oz, and although she has the author's name incorrect, she finds many bridges between the story and her own life. By making Baum's first name Louise, Harry Sue feels an affinity that allows her not to seem so lost, and indeed makes her seem much more wise than her years.

I think that this is a deceptively young story. Drugs, abuse, accidents, and racism all dealt with in this story. Author Sue Stauffacher thanks the kids of incarcerated parents at the end and I wonder how this story will touch them. What it's done for me is made me want to read The Wizard of Oz for the first time. It doesn't seem like the movie did it justice!

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