- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (October 25, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525473122
- ISBN-13: 978-0525473121
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,057,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Lighthouse Hardcover – October 21, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–Chipman uses the real-life starting point of a lighthouse near Hudson, NY, for her imagined story of a lighthouse keeper's family during the Great Depression, from fall 1938 to fall 1939. The narrator, 13-year-old Weezie, has one older and two younger brothers. Without any warning, while the children are at school, Ma leaves the family. She is dissatisfied with her life and the limited view from the lighthouse, which she deems ugly. This leaves their father to carry on without her. The eldest brother rebels and runs away, but Dad brings him back, demonstrating that they are still a family. The children hold out hope that their mother will return, but they finally realize that she is not coming back. They all work together, though one more disaster befalls them: the middle brother dies in a boating accident. While two such devastating losses might be hard for readers, this is ultimately a hopeful book with quiet strength. Weezie comes to see that her view from the lighthouse is different from Ma's; she sees beauty and feels content. An author's note gives historical background about the lighthouse and offers resources for further study.–Laurie von Mehren, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brecksville, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 5-8. In the late 1930s, 13-year-old Weezie and two of her brothers return to their lighthouse home and find that their mother has left for places unknown. Each family member reacts differently, coping with feelings of rejection, fear of abandonment, and resentment at shouldering more of the household work. When Weezie's secret hope that her mother will return for Thanksgiving leads to new distress and disappointment, she gradually, painfully begins to adjust to her loss. Near the end of the book, when tragedy strikes, she can cope with it. Written in the first person from Weezie's point of view, the narrative records her emotional growth in small but telling ways. Weezie, her brothers, and her father also emerge as well-delineated, convincing individuals. Even the Hudson River plays a significant part: flowing around the lighthouse island, it creates a unique setting, contributes to the plot, and isolates the family even as it brings them together. Chipman appends a historical note about the lighthouse at Hudson City, New York, where the story takes place. It's a sometimes sad but ultimately hopeful novel. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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The story itself is compelling, told in the first person, concerning the year following Weesy's mother's leaving her, her three brothers and her Dad alone to make their lives over again in the Hudson River Lighthouse that is both home and workplace. One gets the feeling that this is a story Louise is relating many years after; the language is that of an older person looking back. No reason is given for her mother's abandonment of her, just the sense that she was restless and wanted more than a life as the wife of a lighthouse keeper could give her. During that one difficult year, Weezy finds a way to let her mother go, not just the physical presence that she misses horribly, but also the hope that she will ever return.
She has to take over many of the chores her mother did; the other children are too small and her father can't do it all. He is a good man struggling to keep everything together in spite of the great hole left in the family by his wife's departure. In everything, he is a man who cares deeply about his children and the life they must rebuild. His is a welcome male role in a genre that sometimes doesn't give fathers their due. In spite of his best intentions, though, and his good heart, he is a flawed man. Perhaps a bit too accepting of his lot in life, he grieves, but then quickly moves on, locking the grief inside so he can function in the world. In this, he is very much a man of his time, and he is commendable.
No character is slighted, not the troubled Sid, the impetuous Rudy or Clayton of the eternally running who nose who make up the remaining members of the family, but also given full measure are the grocer, the music teacher and the post-mistress, minor characters, to be sure, but familiar, fully realized, a welcome thing in a genre in which minor characters are often "types."
The greatest compliment that can be given a work of fiction is that it is authentic, a detailed evocation of a specific time and place filled with events and characters that belong to it. There are no jarring anachronisms that take you out of the final days of the Great Depression. You believe these characters and care about them. This is a good read for young people and adults alike.
I enjoyed this book for several reasons, one of which is the descriptive and elegant writing style, which is fitting for a setting as lovely as the Hudson River as nature changes it from one season to the next. I also appreciated the growing understanding in Weezie that her father is a devoted, loving parent who will always be there for his children no matter what.