Monday, March 8, 2010

Freshly-Brewed Monday Book Recommendation #9- Also Known As Harper

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal

Winnie Rae Early followed ten steps behind me the entire way home from school. It was hard not to fall into rhythm with the noisy sniff she took every third step. I knew without turning around that she was doing what she'd done all day long at school, lifting her arm up and wiping at the chapped underside of her nose with the underside of her wrist.

And so begins Also Known As Harper in one of the many complicated yet tender relationships in this book. The lives of Harper (named after Harper Lee) and her brother Hem (Hemingway) have been recently turned upside down. Hem sits on the porch each day waiting for Daddy's truck to pull in the drive, and big sister Harper knows that it won't but the worst part is, she doesn't want it to.

Harper is a poet. Words come to her unexpectedly and she has to get them down on paper. She loves her poetry and wants to share it with the world. Last year she missed the annual poetry recital because her Dad refused to sign the permission slip. Missing the recital broke her heart and this year her family's eviction and the fact she needs to be with Hem while her Mom works, will most likely mean she'll miss it again. What will their new homelessness do to the dreams that mean so much to Harper?

I've read several books this year dealing with families experiencing economic difficulties, but this one seems to take it a step deeper. Real issues of poverty, homelessness, its affect on children, are all grappled with in a very authentic way. It's a fresh take at looking at our belongings (all that stuff!) and our physical place in this world. If all our stuff is gone, and even the roof over our heads disappears, who are we? Who are we as individuals? Who are we as a family? It is an important book and I really grew to love the characters. I think you will too.

2 comments:

Jill & Grant said...

Dear Roz, I am reading your blog posts one by one...oh so slowly...and am just loving them, your insight and all of the marvelousness that is words on a page. Thank you for loving reading and helping us to help our kids love it to.

Rosalind R. Oliver said...

Thank you Jill! I know Abby will be a book-lover just like her Mommy!

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