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Indigo's Star Hardcover – September 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–The endearing and eccentric Casson family, introduced in Saffy's Angel (McElderry, 2002), is back. Recovered from mononucleosis, 12-year-old Indigo dreads his return to school where his sensitive, peace-loving nature makes him a target for bullies. Enter Tom, a classmate from America who is living with his English grandmother to avoid dealing with his divorced parents. His arrogance stymies the gang and deflects some of the mistreatment away from Indigo, who sees through Tom's mask and reaches out in friendship. Meanwhile, eight-year-old Rose cannot adjust to her new glasses or accept her father's apparently permanent move to London. She expresses her distress in her poignant, yet funny, letters to him and by painting family members and friends in and out of a mural on the kitchen wall. Rose, too, forms a bond with Tom, particularly appreciating his guitar playing and his desire to acquire a special instrument. In an incident in which he mistakenly believes the bullies are hurting Rose, Indigo finally fights back, giving the gang leader his comeuppance and setting the "rabble" on the road to good behavior. As the book ends, Rose and Tom each begin to come to terms with the changes in their families, and Tom starts his journey home, with the coveted new guitar. While the story may be somewhat short on plot and a bit facile in its treatment of the issue of bullying, McKay's sly humor, deft characterization, and brisk pacing more than compensate. Readers will love revisiting the chaotic but loving Casson household.–Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. McKay continues the story of the exuberant, artistic Casson family whom readers first met in Saffy's Angel, a Booklist 2002 Editor's Choice selection. This time the focus is on Saffy's younger siblings: Indigo, who is bullied by a gang of his schoolmates, and eight-year-old Rose, already an accomplished artist and a keen observer of each family member's private struggles. As in Saffy, McKay introduces a likable outsider into the mix: Tom, a young, lonely American who confronts the bullies with Indigo, forms a fierce friendship with Rose, and, after being wholly absorbed into the "complete Casson comfort machine," finally accepts his parents' divorce. McKay's portrayal of absent-minded mother Eve occasionally veers into a caricature of daffiness, and some references, particularly those that foreshadow the Casson parents' marital strains, may fly over the heads of young readers. But the author unerringly dissects the politics of bullying and a family's complicated layers of love and anger in an often laugh-out-loud narrative that's as chaotic and lovable as the Casson household itself. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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What the father does at the end of the book does not mitigate his selfishness. It only highlights it. He has lots of money but the kids go hungry. What a jerk! (That isn't the word I wanted to use!)
As has been mentioned, the book is as much about the kid with thorns, Rose, as it is about Indigo. But there is plenty about him.
Adults really ought to read some teen fiction, with an open mind. They would discover that adults are almost always portrayed as jerks, intentional or unintentional jerks. There must be a reason for that beyond "teen rebelliousness."
But in some ways, the Cassons go through what every family does. Caddy brings home boyfriend after boyfriend, trying to explore her options before settling on Darling Michael. Rose writes increasingly terrifying letters to her father in attempts to make him come home. Indigo, however, may have the most difficult time of all: not only has he been out of school for a whole term with mono, he’s still the target of the school bullies. Indigo’s new American friend, Tom, with his smooth talking and cool defiance of any and all rules, may turn things around, especially since Rose gets along with Tom, too. But Tom has problems of his own, and it seems that only the Cassons can bring him to sense.
I didn’t love “Saffy’s Angel,” but I enjoyed it enough to seek out this companion. Unfortunately, I found that “Indigo’s Star” features little of the charm of “Saffy’s Angel” and most of the twee. Caddy and Michael’s hilarious exchanges, which I found to be one of the best parts of “Angel,” are absent in favor of a few deadbeat boyfriends (except, of course, for Derek, who deserves rather more page time than he gets). Saffy and Sarah, the duo that shone so in “Angel,” might as well not be in “Star” at all. And Rose is still Rose: bratty and annoyingly precocious, although her urgent letters to Bill and her devotion to Tom almost save her.
But “Star” isn’t all bad. Saffy and Sarah may be long gone, but Indigo and Tom make up for it. Rarely were there ever two friends that needed each other more, and their relationship grows beautifully. Tom teaches Indigo not to be scared of heights, and Indigo teaches Tom that when it comes to family, you have to take the bad with the good. The adults are better, too: the cynical Bill is made almost human; dreamy Eve is both lauded and laughed at. And Tom’s grandmother is both kind and responsible, bringing the total of kind, responsible adults in this series up to . . . one.
Overall, it’s a nice and competently written read, but by no means a standout. I’ll give “Permanent Rose” a try and see if I want to continue with this series. The bad qualities could outweigh the good – but it could just as well be the other way around, and how will I know if I don’t try?
I like the characters, and I think they are pretty well-drawn. The situations they get into are realistic, and they do a good job of navigating them, alone and with eachother's help.
But- in some ways the family reminds me of the way my sister and I used to play dolls: first we killed off the parents, and then the stories started. Here, the parents aren't dead... but for all the regular impact on their kids' lives, they may as well be. The dad has vanished into a more glamorous and prosperous new life, abandoning his family for the most part. The mom is vague enough that there is not infrequently no food in the house, nor likely the money to buy any. Meanwhile, while Daad is living in elegance and jaunting off to Paris, the kids are living in squalor. OK, they don't seem to mind... but ??!!
If you like L'Engle, you might well like these, though these are less twee than some of L'Engle's more recent books, especially about the Austins.
In short, I can see many kids from more distant homes loving these. The family is written well. But- the whole squalor thing while Dad swans it bothers me a lot, and here it's treated rather like a forgivable, trivial eccentricity rather than a huge selfish irresponsibility.
But- charming and heartwarming, yeah, and well-written, too.
This is another wonderful visit with characters that seem so real they are like my own dear friends. I cannot wait to read the next book, "Permanent Rose."
Most recent customer reviews
After recovering from mononucleosis, twelve-year-old Indigo Casson returns to school.Read more
worth the mony but you should read saffys angel first enjoy1