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Blessen Paperback – April 11, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Border Press (April 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984891528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984891528
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,324,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Y. Gibson on April 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Margaret Simon's "Blessen" is said to be a book for young readers, but an old reader like me can enjoy it just as well. The book is very well written and was for me one of those books that you tend to think about even when you are not in the process of reading it. The style of writing reminds me of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Blessen, the principle character and the narrator, lives in south Louisiana. As the story evolves, there is a mother, a grandfather, an aunt and uncle, and even a chicken. There is cooking and eating, a pirogue and a bayou, sadness and joy, sickness and death. There are mishaps and blessings, and secrets and disclosures. The young girl Blessen teaches us how to love -- how to love family and friends, the world around her, a late-returning father, and even a chicken.
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Format: Paperback
Get to know Blessen ... follow her as she goes to collect eggs from her chicken Blue, opening her heart as she talks to the thoroughbred hen.
Ten-year-old Blessen LaFleur and her Momma live on True Friend Road in St. Martinville, Louisiana, in a FEMA trailer--after Hurricane Katrina sent a water oak through the roof of her grandpa's house.
With her thick, curly brown hair and brown skin, Blessen--whose name (slightly altered) comes from the book of Genesis in the Bible: " ... thou shalt be a blessing"--wonders why she doesn't look more like her fair, blonde mother. "That's how God made you, Blessen," is all her mother says in explanation.
Blessen dreams of who her father might be: a knight on a horse, or simply a man who will one day come to their door and sweep Momma into his arms.
Summer is hot in South Louisiana. Blessen has chores, but also loves to read: Nancy Drew in The Hidden Staircase. Blessen's aunts and mother are all named for flowers (Rose, Gardenia, Magnolia, and Wisteria)--her Momma is Gardenia, and "smells strong and sweet like the flower ... but when she's mad, she gets hot and red like the red hibiscus."
Besides the color and local customs of Teche country, what stands out most in this lovely book is the voice of Blessen herself--as she makes mistakes, reaches out to those around her who love her, and seeks forgiveness and understanding in her personal quest [not giving away the plot here] to find satisfying answers.
The Reader's Guide in the back of the book offers discussion questions for individuals or groups--an "added value" to this touching and skillfully written story.

Isabel Anders' latest book is Spinning Straw, Weaving Gold: A Tapestry of Mother-Daughter Wisdom.
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Format: Paperback
Margaret Simon has written a gentle story about a young bi-racial girl who is navigating her way through the world with the support of loving family members: those she has known as family since birth and those she comes to know as family over the course of the book. Blessen is an independent, intelligent child whose family must deal with the stresses of making a living and facing illnesses that leave devastating marks on the people she loves. Coping with these stresses contributes to Blessen's ability to make decisions that will surprise many adults and children who spend too much time either coddling or being coddled. It is a lovely book that leaves the reader hopeful and happy that Blessen came to life.
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Format: Paperback
Blessen, published by Border Press, has the authentic voice of a young heroine named Blessen LaFleur who struggles with not-so-ordinary growing up crises in a small town of southwestern Louisiana: the death of a pet chicken, Blue, that is killed by a hawk, the accidental burning of Blessen’s grandfather’s porch when she tries to cremate Blue, the death of her beloved grandfather, and the startling discovery that her father is an alcoholic who deserted her and her mother because of his addiction. Margaret handles narrations about life teachings throughout Blessen without being didactic, especially the topics of faith and forgiveness.

This is a coming-of-age story set in bayou country, a locale that is deftly and tautly described; e.g., “The night sounds are scary and loud; cicadas, mourning doves, and frogs fill the air with a sad song…” and arresting metaphors such as “the sun rises like a dagger to the dawn…” Birds, flowers, and insects are also tautly drawn; e.g., the latter description: “The cicada buzz rises from the trees. It starts as a soft buzzing, then builds with more vibration, like a motor, then dies out, and begins again…”

Simon employs vivid concrete detail in the description of her characters: “Miss Ella Mae wears an American flag that flows in and out of her lumpy middle across her white T-shirt. The Fourth of July is a few weeks away, but Miss Ella is ready. Her black wig is in a hip style with red hairpieces sprouting like fireworks from the top of her head. She looks like the Fourth of July herself…” Young adults will love that passage!
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Format: Paperback
BLESSEN, by Margaret Simon, is as beautiful and profound a book as you can possibly give a grandchild to read. My 10 year old granddaughter was sent one the same day I read it. I was delighted to see her read it for several reasons. First, it's a delicate introduction to the complex culture of South Louisiana. Second, it addresses the complexities of life as well as culture, in a story that is not threatening to the young adult world view. And third, the gentle suspense is unremitting. I read the book in one swoop, with only one 5 minute break. I found that BLESSEN enlarged my own grasp of (and forgiveness for) humanity. And I'm so happy I can now pass along to children and youth this new expansion in my own love of the world.
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