Archive for the ‘Joanne Taylor’ Category

Tthere you are joanne taylorhere You Are by Joanne Taylor ~ 2004. This edition: Tundra Books, 2004. Softcover. ISBN: 0-88776-658-7. 199 pages.

My rating: 4.5/10. Well researched and competently written, but missing that special spark.

*****

Almost-twelve-year-old Jeannie Shaw lives with her family in the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1952. School is about to start, and this year Jeannie hopes and prays that there will be a friend for her, another girl who she can walk with and talk with, share secrets and dreams with; someone to heal the deep loneliness that Jeannie has had for far too long.

There are several other girls at Jeannie’s small rural school, but they are a grade older and as far as they are concerned that year or two might well be a century. Word is out that a new family has arrived, with a child Jeannie’s age; but to her dismay the longed for girl turns out to be just another boy.

Jeannie and Cap Parker get off very much on the wrong foot together, a situation made worse by their sharing of the same desk in school. And things at home aren’t going well either. Jeannie’s pesky four-year-old sister Pearl is always getting into her things, and their pregnant mother merely pleads for peace and quiet rather than administering any sort of punishment to Pearl.

When Pearl and her small friend Ella disappear while being in Jeannie’s care, she reluctantly finds herself grateful for Cap’s quick wits and good nature in dealing with the days of uncertainty which follow.

While this was a book which tried really hard, it just never really got off the ground for me. The characters were one-dimensional and predictable in all of their thoughts and actions. A certain success was achieved in the description of the time and setting: 1952 in a peaceful, beautiful, rural Cape Breton Valley. Little historical snippets are distributed throughout.  A few horses still share the roads with cars in this peacefully backwoods part of the world; Cap’s father died in World War II, and Jeannie’s father is a returned veteran; the polio epidemic is widely known and deeply dreaded, and is a key part of an incompletely developed plot twist.

There is not enough historical content to make this a proper historical fiction, or enough character development to make this a satisfactory personality-driven novel; the climax is artificially sustained and unrealistically resolved. A very cookie cutter story, imposed on a potentially unique setting.

This is not so much a bad juvenile novel as it is a disappointing one, at least to this reader. I felt it was missing that elusive spark which truly brings a story to life.

This appears to be a minority opinion. There You Are was nominated for the Canadian Library Association’s Children’s Book of the Year Award for 2005, and was a finalist for the 2005/2006 Hackmatack Award, an Atlantic Canadian “Children’s Choice” award.

An acceptable story for the target audience of eight to twelve suggested by the publisher’s promotional blurb, but not recommended by me with any sort of enthusiasm, though Jeannie’s situation will likely garner some sympathy from younger, less critical readers.

Purchased at a recent library book sale, and going back into circulation to try for another home; it’s just been placed gently in the giveaway box.

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