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Part of Me: Stories of a Louisiana Family Paperback – September 29, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-9–This lyrical novel is actually a collection of vignettes that spans five generations of a family living in the Louisiana bayous. Beginning with Rose as a young girl who, in 1939, must drop out of school in order to help her mother put food on the table, the stories follow pivotal moments–an injured dog, learning to dance, a summer job–in the lives of her descendants. What connects the chapters is the presence of books, whether on a bookmobile or on a library shelf, or even the writing of ones own story. Holt once again excels at creating character and an evocative sense of place.–Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Set in Louisiana bayou country, this unusual collection of stories spans four generations of one family and uses reading as the thread that strings them together. The first three tales, which begin in 1939, concern Rose, who must go to work at 14 and passes herself off as 17 to drive the library bookmobile. Two stories tell of Rose's 12-year-old son, Merle Henry, reading Old Yeller around 1957. In 1973, his daughter, Annabeth, an eighth-grader, clings to fairy tales in the face of first love. Then Annabeth's 13-year-old son, Kyle, in 2004 can only find a library job--though he doesn't like to read. The final story, also taking place in 2004, centers again on Rose, now 79. Though readers may sometimes wish for more about a particular character, this collection offers a different experience: marking the passage of time through a succession of related characters. Readers intrigued by Rose, whose early entries are the only stories told here in first person, will have the satisfaction of seeing her in later tales and watching her quiet triumph at the end. The author of My Louisiana Sky (1998), Holt sketches a broad range of characters with verve and sensitivity. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312581459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312581459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a Navy brat that lived all over the world including Guam, Paris and the New Orleans Westbank. Even though we moved a lot, my emotional home was always Forest Hill, Louisiana, a little town in the piney-woods where my grandparents lived. I married a Texan and have lived in Texas most of my adult life. Both states feel like home now. I like to say that Louisiana gave me roots and Texas gave me branches.

I started writing on yellow legal pads and didn't own a computer until after I'd been writing a year. Maybe that's why I still write my first drafts by hand.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Librarians of the world, rejoice! Have I got a children's book for you. Because Kimberly Willis Holt is a sweetheart, I know that her book, "Part of Me", must have come out of a very special place in her heart. Inspired in part by, "Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky" alongside seven generations of Holt's own family that have lived in Louisiana, this book has its roots in a variety of different places. That said, I've never read a children's book that was so clearly bound to be adored by a single profession as this l'il puppy. If you know a librarian and you want to make them happy, good news. Your gift-giving qualms may be safely put to rest.

The story begins when Rose's father leaves. Her family had been eeking out a living as best they could until that time. But when Conrad McKee left his wife and three kids that day, it wasn't long before they packed up and moved to Houma, Louisiana. Deep in the Louisiana bayou, Rose gets a job as a bookmobile driver, putting aside her dreams of finishing high school and attending college. "Part of Me", follows four generations of Rose's family, starting with her, and going down through her descendants a generation at a time. Rose's son Merle has a story in this book involving trapping, a hurt dog, and how "Old Yeller" touched his life. His daughter Annabeth, in turn, suffers the humiliations of unpopularity while finding her own inner strength in stories where the princess does NOT end up with a prince at the end. Her son Kyle, in contrast, couldn't care less about books. Then a particularly good one get him hooked. Finally, by the story's end, we return to Rose and her greatest dream realized.

First of all, thank you, Kimberly Willis Holt, for the family tree at the beginning of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a story about a girl named Rose and her siblings. Their father leaves without

telling his family. So Rose and her siblings are stuck with their evil mother. They don't have any food or water, so they move. This story tells Rose's life story from when her family had to move to Michigan to when Rose's great grandchildren had kids.

I think every one should read this book especially teens because it's filled

with fun, excitement, love and every day teen stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
Part of Me is a celebration of family and reading. Spanning four generations, this book tells the story of important events that happened when the main character was thirteen years old.

It's 1939 and Rose's dad has walked out on his family. Rose and her family move from Texas to Louisiana to live with her grandfather. Being the oldest, Rose must find a job to help support her family. She lies about her age to get a job driving the bookmobile. For Rose, The Good Earth is a comforting read and a link to her favorite teacher who encouraged her to become a writer.

In the following chapters, we meet the next three generations of Rose's family: Merle Henry, Annabeth and Kyle. Merle Henry loves being outdoors trapping minks. He enjoys Old Yeller because it reminds him of his own dog, Blue. Merle Henry is forced to make some difficult decisions when Blue is injured in the woods. Annabeth enjoys fairytales and has a crush on a neighborhood boy. However she soon learns that life is not always kind when she is bullied by one of the popular girls. Kyle is looking for his first summer job. The only job available is at the library and Kyle doesn't like to read. His job is to perform skits of popular stories so he reads to find out what happened and how the story ended. He finds a Harry Potter book and this reluctant reader discovers a book that captures his interest.

This book deals sensitively with issues of puberty, poverty and divorce. Since there is minor swearing and alcohol/drug references, I think this book is appropriate for middle age readers and up. Both boys and girls will be able to identify with the realistic situations.

I enjoyed spending time with Rose's family, each character has a distinct voice and a story to tell.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent story and excellent presentation, clearly demonstrating Ms. Holt's abundant creative talents as well as her deep understanding of a simplistic way of life in the south that preceded her generation. I have followed Ms. Holts writing career closely and my 1st choice among her 7 published books is "When Zachary Beaver Came To Town". First, because it sent a strong message to its readership that obese people often deserve our empathy and friendship, and secondly, because I was amazed at her ability to think like pre-teen age boys, as the book centered around 3 lads. It deservedly was awarded the 1999 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature and I think "A Part of Me" has promise of capturing an even larger readership and achieving the highest literature awards. It offers a wide variation of deep south characters and does an excellent job of bearing out their wants, needs and contributions across several family generations. Definitely should be a candidate for the Newberry award!
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By Debra K Brown on May 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Family secrets and unresolved family dynamics come to the forefront when an abandoned mother of 3 children must move back home with a colorful rascal of a dad . Mom has to take whatever job she can find. Oldest daughter is forced to give up her dreams to help support the family. The story focus is the passing of years and the clinging to of a young life dream. Life takes many twists and turns and a dream can come true, even if it a long time coming.
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