Twelve-year-old Frankie Adams, longing at once for escape and belonging, takes her role as "member of the wedding" to mean that when her older brother marries she will join the happy couple in their new life together. But Frankie is unlucky in love; her mother is dead, and Frankie narrowly escapes being raped by a drunken soldier during a farewell tour of the town. Worst of all, "member of the wedding" doesn't mean what she thinks. A gorgeous, brief coming-of-age novel.
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In Carson McCullers' writing, every word evokes the tragic and miraculous emotional truths of ordinary experience. Her characters are complex, even weird, but feel entirely genuine; her scenes are accessible even when they aren't familiar. In The Member of the Wedding
, Frankie Adams is hungry for escape, hungry for belonging; it is her peculiar resolution to this classic adolescent paradox that makes her unique. Frankie finds a new identity in her determination to become an integral part of her brother's wedding: "At last she knew just who she was and understood where she was going. She loved her brother and the bride and she was a member of the wedding. The three of them would go into the world and they would always be together." This fantasy transforms Frankie's twelve-year old perspective on herself, her relationships, and her small southern hometown. Her inevitable disillusionment and ultimate survival seem almost mythical, yet the tale is told in the simplest terms. The ongoing conversations in the hot kitchen between Frankie, her cousin John Henry, and the cook Berenice resonate with social and personal authenticity. This is a story to be read and reread, to be heard and felt and trusted. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Kirsten Backstrom