Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sister Spider Knows All by Adrian Fogelin
I recommend this book for: grade 5-8
Fun and moving. Rox is 12, and she lives with her grandmother (Mimi) and 23 year old cousin John Martin, who is very smart but is still in college because he has to work full time to try to support the family. Mimi and Rox do their part on weekends, selling grapes, pumpkins, and all sorts of odds and ends at a fleamarket. They struggle, but they're surviving. Life gets very shaken up when John Martin brings Lucy home - she's the rich daughter of a doctor, and she gets a big kick out of 'redneck' things like riding in the back of John Martin's truck and learning how to make fried chicken. Mimi can't stand her at first, but what Rox sees in Lucy is a big sister, someone to confide in.
There is a lot of story here, but I felt that the main focus was the relationships - between Rox and Lucy, Lucy and the family, Rox and the people at the fleamarket, and especially between Rox and the mother who ran off when her daughter was just 3 months old (that one is facilitated by a diary Rox finds in the attic). It was just a fantastic exploration of family, and a girl trying to figure out what it means for her.
Just a few things here, and they are spoilers: Rox's mother was only 17 when her daughter was born, and her diary reveals that she was rather wild as a teenager - not in detail, but some parents might be uncomfortable with it.