Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Split; Miracle on Maple Hill

Avasthi, Swati. Split.
High school junior Jace finally leaves his abusive father, leaving his mother behind, and seeks out his older brother, Christian, who left the family years earlier, also due to abuse. Christian is now a medical resident and takes Jace in, but the two have a rocky road to travel. Christian's girlfriend, Mirriam, who is a teacher, tries to help the two, but they are both uncommunicative and not forthcoming with the truth. Jace tries to settle in to his new school, and hopes that his mother will soon leave his father and join them.

This is a well-researched book, and very effective. The pain the two men feel is palpable, and their struggles realistic and heart wrenching. This is, however, more of a high school book. Not only because of the frequent use of the f-word (and again, I was raised at a time when this word was NEVER, EVER to be uttered under any circumstances), but because of the ways the boys cope with their abuse. They try to be self-reliant, and middle school students identify more with books where the abused children seek help from other adults. Excellent novel for high school.

Sorenson, Virginia. Miracles on Maple Hill. (1957)
I've had a hankering for reading some older books for no apparent reason, and have a copy of this title at home. *Sigh*. Marly and her family move from Pittsburgh to a run-down family house in the country in Pennsylvania because her father has an unspecified illness that makes him tired and cranky. Their neighbors, the Mr. Chris and Chrissie, farm and make maple syrup. Marly enjoys being able to run around outside, and her father's health slowly improves. There is a crisis, of course, but the family and neighbors all pull together and weather it.

There is very little that happens in this book, and it's a difficult one to get children to read now, but I do love it, and it has stood the test of time well. With the exception of one brief reference to riding the street cars, it is not dated at all. There were so many memoirs written during the 1950s about people moving to the country and living on farms that it is not a surprise that this one won a Newbery. If all books weren't overdue, I would try to get someone to read this.


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