Gather and Heal

Sep 23, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

It felt so ironic to read the 1943 Newbery Award winner, Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt, by Esther Forbes, during the public mourning for Queen Elizabeth’s death. The whole colonial conflict came to life vividly in this well-paced story of a lowly apprentice in a struggling silver shop. The setting was clear, the personalities in the beleaguered household, and the wealthy merchants and tradespeople, were all well done. That Johnny got betrayed by another pathetic apprentice and his own wealthy relatives was gripping and painful. What a good story and my sincere sympathy to the royals who weathered the ultra-formal ceremonies.

Whatever prompted me to take out My Several Worlds: A Personal Record, (1954) by Pearl Buck, I’m glad I did. Buck is such a marvelous, honest writer. I’m looking forward to plowing through it over the next few days. So far, I've particularly liked how she explained growing up with two cultures, thoroughly-white Christian, surrounded by delightful Chinese neighbors. Her history lessons were useful and insightful, especially how her neighbors forgave Europeans for their misdeeds, because regrettably, they were not born Chinese. That her father used a knife and fork in the British style that he expected her to follow, while her mother held them in the American style that she expected Pearl to follow, was the kind of detail that had a universal appeal. Who didn’t grow up with conflicting rules from parents? So many things were not mentioned in front of children when I was growing up. I really liked her honesty.

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