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A Corner Of The Universe Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; Reprint edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439388813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439388818
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Martin (Belle Teal; the Baby-Sitters Club series) hints at a life-changing event from the first paragraph of this novel narrated by a perceptive and compassionate 12-year-old, and set in the summer of 1960. Hattie Owen had been anticipating a summer as comfortably uneventful as all the others ("I just want things all safe and familiar," she admits), helping her mother run their boarding house, painting alongside her artist father and reading "piles" of books. Then Uncle Adam (whom Hattie never knew existed) makes a surprise entrance, turning everything upside-down. Hattie's mother says that Uncle Adam has "mental problems." Hattie's grandparents act embarrassed whenever he is around, and her peers laugh at him. The author authentically conveys the ripples Adam sends through this small town. The heroine is continually amazed by his outlandish antics, moved by his sudden mood changes and secretly wonders if she and Adam might be kindred spirits. Hattie finds adventure and tragedy as well as enlightenment as she "lifts the corners of [her] universe" in order to better understand Adam. With characteristic tenderness and wisdom, the author portrays the complex relationship between the sympathetic heroine and her uncle ("I feel a little like his baby-sitter, a little like his mother, not at all like his niece, and quite a bit like his friend"). Readers will relate to Hattie's fear of being as "different" as Adam, and will admire her willingness to befriend an outcast. Hearts will go out to both Hattie and Adam as they step outside the confines of their familiar world to meet some painful challenges. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Watching home movies, Hattie looks back over the summer of 1960 and the events that changed her perception of life. The 12-year-old has difficulty making friends her own age, but enjoys the company of an elderly boarder, the friendly cook, and her artist father. Her relationship with her mother is sometimes difficult because they must always negotiate clothing and behavior to suit her wealthy, overbearing maternal grandmother. Suddenly, an uncle whom Hattie has never heard of comes to live with her grandparents because his school has closed. Although she is totally shocked at the existence of this rapidly babbling, Lucille Ball-quoting, calendar-savant child in a man's body, Hattie comes to appreciate his affection for her, his exuberance for life, and his courage in facing society's rejection. When she suggests that he sneak out to join her for a night of fun at a carnival, tragedy ensues. Hattie's narration is clear and appealing. Her recollection of the smallest of behaviors shows that each family member has felt both love and pain for her uncle, but could not express it. As she comes to understand what Uncle Adam meant when he spoke of being able to lift the corners of our universe, she is hopeful that her family can learn to heal and communicate. Martin delivers wonderfully real characters and an engrossing plot through the viewpoint of a girl who tries so earnestly to connect with those around her. This is an important story, as evocative on the subject of mental illness as Ruth White's Memories of Summer (Farrar, 2000).
Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ann M. Martin is the bestselling author of the momentous series The Baby-sitters Club, as well as the Main Street series. Her other acclaimed novels include "A Dog's Life," "Belle Teal," "Here Today," and the Newbery Honor Book "A Corner of the Universe." She lives in upstate New York. For more information, visit www.scholastic.com/bsc.

Customer Reviews

Anyone in high school and older should read this book.
Amazon Customer
A Corner of the Universe* is a simple story about Hattie Owens and her brief summer, in 1960, with Uncle Adam.
There is a lot to love here, and the main character (Hattie) is both relatable and realistic.
Nicole P.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Bibliotekaria on January 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Hattie's universe is permanently altered the summer she turns twelve, when for the first time she meets her 21-year-old mentally ill Uncle Adam, of whom no one in the family had ever mentioned previously. His presence disrupts the orderly life of her wealthy and controlling grandparents, who are left with no other option than to accept him back into their home when his school closes. Hattie, an introspective only child with few friends, feels alternately enchanted by Adam's childlike exuberance and concerned that she might be somehow "like him." She becomes protective of him as she witnesses the cruel reaction of those who deem him a "freak."
Ann Martin's authentic writing takes us back to 1960 with such details as rickrack as a fashion statement, nylons and garter belts, and "Dobie Gillis." Her sympathetic treatment of the characters draws the reader into this poignant story, earning a well-deserved Newbery honor for 2003.
Though the reading level is listed as 9-12, I would offer a caution that the emotional content is rather mature for this age group. I consider this appropriate for middle school and older. Younger readers might find Betsy Byars' "The Summer of the Swans," a book with similar themes, to be a bit more emotionally on target.
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102 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Mass Reader on November 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If I were reviewing this book for an adult reader or even a teenager, I would say that it was very well-written, and it kept my interest. But, I read the book because it was recommended to me by a school teacher for our mother/daughter book club. This book club was composed of girls in 3rd and 4th grade at the time. I don't read most of the books that my daughters bring home from school, so I was interested to see what type of book this was. It was pretty early in the book that "red flag" number one appeared. If this is a book for 9 year olds, is it really appropriate to have the main male character gawking at a female character's chest? Later this male character walks in on this same female and catches her "in the act" with another man. Please don't read any futher if you don't want to hear the ending, but this was the final straw in my book. This main character, who has mental issues, kills himself. And at the service for his funeral, the young girl in the story calls him "brave." There is something definitely wrong with recommending this book for ages 9-12--at least for MY 10 and 11 year olds. Come on, sex and suicide for 3rd and 4th graders? I'm sorry, I've never considered myself "old-fashioned," but where do we draw the line? Needless to say, I did not choose this book for our book club.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ann M. Martin has written, to my knowledge, three books now involving autistic characters - a stand-alone novel in the 80s, that BSC book, and now this one.

I like to be complete, so I thought I'd check this one out and compare it against my memories of the others. This review WILL contain spoilers, I'm sorry, because there are a few issues I have with the book at the end.

First, you should note that Adam's characterization clearly reflects increased knowledge of autism. This is as it should be - the other two books are painfully outdated... but it wouldn't be fair to judge her for writing a book in the 80s that uses the knowledge we had in the 80s. Adam is never officially diagnosed, but it's fairly clear from the speculation ("some thought it was autism, some thought it was schizophrenia") and a few specific details of Adam's behavior (he engages in scripted speech, he has the savant skill of calendar counting, he is totally lacking in the social awareness that says do NOT stare at women's chests) that he's intended to be on the spectrum.

How accurate is this depiction? I don't know. I have a hard time believing that you COULD memorize many - much less all! - full episodes of I Love Lucy in the days before VCRs, but then, I didn't live in the 60s. The calendar counting did annoy me. Most autistics are not savants (and only about half of all savants are autistic - Kim Peek, the inspiration for Rain Man, was not autistic, for example).

I was happy to see that Adam is a real character. He has interests and feelings and a life. You get the feeling that he has some greater purpose than to simply provide character development for his niece.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dottie on May 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My 11 year old daughter was deeply upset by this book after being given it to read by her school librarian. Struggling with similar issues of mood swings, rejection by peers, etc.(what young girl doesn't?) she really identified with the autistic boy, Adam, who later commits suicide. The story, while dealing positively about the relationship between an 11 year old girl and her autistic uncle, has an inappropriate resolution for a book for children and young adults. Adam commits suicide by hanging, and the 11 year old, Hattie, felt responsible. On page 178, Hattie reflects "I...realize that Adam's decision to take his life was not made easily. It took a certain kind of courage. Just not the kind of courage I choose." With the rising rates of autism, mental health issues in youth, and suicide in youth, I don't consider suicide a "certain kind of courage."
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