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Alberta and Jacob Paperback – June 1, 2003
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I absolutely loved this book and the descriptions of Alberta's feelings as she struggles to survive in a middle class home under the eagle eye of disapproving, disappointed Mama. Her walks with Papa almost lead to meaningful conversation ...but not quite:
"She and Papa repeated the same words that they had repeated countless times before. They would turn back and go home, nothing had changed, everything was just as hopeless and just as oppressive."
And what does Alberta even want? "Not knowing brought unrest and a giddy sensation under her heart. She existed like a negative of herself." But despite the details being blurred, "She imagined somehere open, free, bathed in sunshine. And a throng of people, none of them her relatives, none of whom could criticize her appearance and character, and to whom she was not responsible for being other than herself."
But life goes on - the darkness, the intense cold, the poverty, the disapproval, whether she hangs back shyly or consorts with "the wrong sort." I adored it and am reading the second in the trilogy.
I felt Alberta's loneliness in this book down to my bones - her alienation from the other women in her life, her sense of greater closeness to the enigmatic male figures such as her father and brother.
I thoroughly recommend these books to anyone who likes good writing and strong female characters.
This is a book about the unease of being an adolescent girl in a small, isolated community and not being pretty, talented or charming enough to fit in or to have good prospects, whether of marriage or some sort of education.
This story is more about Alberta's perception of her situation, her struggle to handle disapproval from some and being ignored by others. It's not plot driven, so there are no big events, tragedies or fantastic challenges to overcome. The great challenge or struggle of the main character is with herself. She needs to develop strength of character to do what she needs to do to change her predicament.