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Part of Me: Stories of a Louisiana Family Paperback – September 29, 2009
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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. There's nothing worse than a story that jumps from generation to generation without a simple map for the reader to follow. I'm fairly bad with names too, so it was nice to have a part of the book to continually check as a reference. Of course, reading through the family tree was bound to give away some secrets as to who marries who, but if you're willing to put up with that then you'll have no problems at all. The book might jump from one character to another, but as long as you have the family tree available, you'll have no troubles.
The writing itself is great, of course. Holt has the ability to make each character's voice distinct and separate from the rest. Bear in mind that these are quiet stories. With the exception of a little bloodshed in Merle's tale, you will find no chase sequences, dark-hearted villains, or action sequences here. You will find a little cussing and a little alcohol use (though the term "hair of the dog" is never actually used . . . ), but nothing mind-blowing. One librarian I heard discussing this book called it a summer story. Most of the tales here do take place in the summer months, but I'm not sure if that's how I would best characterize it. It's just a measured, balanced series of family tales. It's the equivalent of sitting on your porch listening to your relatives recount their past adventures.
All right. The one hundred million dollar question here: Will kids like this book? I say yes, but with some caveats. First of all, this is not a reluctant reader title. You want to give a book to a child who only reads Manga and maybe some "Harry Potter"? This may not be the best choice to give. The cover alone makes it infinitely clear that this is a book for those children who love reading. Better still, those who love reading about realistic people and situations. I have little doubt that a lot of kids will find themselves sympathizing with Annabeth's desire to be popular or Merle's affection for his dog and his trapping. I, personally, saw a lot of my own siblings in book-avoiding Kyle. Holt cleverly balances the text between boys and girls too so, in spite of its pastel cover, boys will find characters here to take some interest in.
All in all, it's a nice book. Not a stunning book but a nice one. With Louisiana so often in the news these days, it's nice to read something that reminds us of that region's charms and beauties. Librarians are gonna buy it in droves.
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. Holt includes some historical and pop culture references that transport the reader to each time period.
Armchair Interviews says: This was a bittersweet look at family relationships and the books they treasured.
Most recent customer reviews
telling his family. So Rose and her siblings are stuck with their evil mother.Read more