After a well-fought battle to concur lung problems, Linda Martin Andersen’s beloved husband Scotty “shuffled off this mortal coil” and is now breathing easily. So, sad as the topic may be, I thought I would talk about three stellar books written on the subject of dealing with death. I do hope you readers and your families are doing well.
The first book is a well-deserved reprinting of Lois Lowry’s book, based in part on the death of her own sister.
A Summer to Die
Sometimes reading or rereading a well told story from years ago is so much better than reading a new story. This book is indeed such a joy. Meg and her sister, Molly, move from their comfortable home in town where each has her own bedroom to a small cottage in the country where they must share a bedroom so their dad can finish the book he’s writing. Neither girl is happy with the move at first, but then pretty Molly finds a boyfriend at her school and Meg meets an old man, Will Banks, down the road who helps her find her way. The family dynamic changes when Molly gets seriously ill and has to spend time in a hospital. When she comes back, Molly is not the same and Meg doesn’t know why. In the meantime Meg begins to take her photography more seriously, encouraged by Will Banks, who gives her his still good, German camera that he bought in WWII. Will owns the three houses on his farm: the cabin he lives in; the cottage he rents to Meg’s family; and the large house he grew up in. Unfortunately, his only living relative wants to sell the farm for a profit, saying Will can live his life out there. When Will sells the large house to a nice young couple, Maria and Ben, his nephew threatens to sue him. Will is key to Meg’s dealing with Molly’s impending death. Plus, Maria and Ben want Meg to take pictures of the birth of their child. Though she and her parents move back to their house in town after Meg’s dad finishes his book, Meg does keep in touch with Will, visiting him when the blue gentian blooms. The book will make your heart sad and happy.
BIBLIO: 2016 (orig. 1977,) Houghton Mifflin Books for Children /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $8.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Middle Reader
This book has so much going for it; I struggled to relate all the nuances. And, of course, having horses be a big part of the story certainly made me more enthusiastic. I could envision the Cornwall area of England with much clarity and sympathized with not just the protagonists, but the lesser players.
One Silver Summer
Alexander is a dreading the party downstairs on his secondary school’s ballroom floor. He knows he’s going to be the center to attention, because, as future heir to the English throne, he always is. But now his parents are divorcing and the news is spreading all over the British Isles, actually, the world. Worst of all he learned of the pending divorce not through his parents, but a rapacious, gossip-mongering reporter. All he wants to do is to escape to his grandmother’s house in Cornwall and hide. However, when he does, he discovers a girl there who seems to be hiding also. But Alex is so used to strangers, especially pretty young girls, wanted something from him—like be his queen—he is quite suspicious of the newcomer to his village. And finding her trespassing on his grandmother, the Countess of Tremayne’s, estate makes him even more suspicious. Saskia, a.k.a. Sass, recently orphaned, is now living in the village with her uncle and recovering from her mother’s awful death in Brooklyn, NY. Alex is attracted to her anyway, because she seems so innocent and appears to be ignorant of who he is. Sass thinks he’s the stable boy because he’s always out riding horses or cleaning up after them. He teaches her to ride and they spend more and more time together. Sass meets Alex’s grandmother, but doesn’t know who she is or that she and Alex are related. The plot is nicely convoluted and both Sass and Alex grow emotionally. Though there’s a bit of a fairy tale quality, it’s more about understanding oneself. It is a delightful read with a lovely feel for the Cornwall countryside.
BIBLIO: 2016, Scholastic Press/Scholastic, Inc., Ages 13+, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
And what can be more heart wrenching than reading about a child realizing how soon she’s going to be an orphan? (Sorry, but from my perspective of 75 years, even a teenager is a child. I have trouble thinking of my 50s something children as anything but my children.)
Erin Bailey’s father dies in a plane crash when she is six, leaving her afraid of the dark. Now, ten years later, her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. What’s a teenager to do when she sees her future as an orphan? Especially since she tests positive for the BRCA gene mutation? To make her more alone, she and her best friend aren’t as tight anymore because her friend has her first serious boyfriend. Erin meets a young woman, Ashley, in an online BRCA chat group who gives Erin courage and hope, and she decides to learn to fly. Of course she doesn’t want to upset her mother, so she keeps lots of secrets. Then she really messes up when she “borrows” her instructor’s plane to fly from Georgia to Florida to go visit Ashley, who has secrets. Things get messier, as any good book should, before they get better, but even though her mother does die just before Erin’s graduation from high school, she has taught her daughter how to understand this mutant gene and lots more about life. The book is nicely written and gives a great deal of information about dealing with breast cancer, including encouraging girls when to get tested and whom to confide in. The love story woven into the narrative isn’t too shabby either. There’s plenty of food for classroom discussion in the book, including why the BRCA gene mutation should be of concern to men.
BIBLIO: 2015, Bloomsbury Children’s Books/Bloomsbury Plc, Ages 14 +, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
The thing that ties these books together is the comfort they bring by assuring us that there is hope after all is said and done. Enjoy. Sarah
10 thoughts on “In Honor of Scotty Andersen and his lovely Wife, Linda”
Fine book reviews, Sarah. How sweet of you to dedicate this to Scotty.
Thanks Carol and here I was thinking you had moved to Greenville, NC. Check out the couple who sing under the banner of Friction Farm. They sing folky kinds of songs that they write. Cheers, Sarah
I’m sorry to say that I missed this one earlier. Thank you so much for dedicating this blog post in memory of my hubby. What a great friend you are! I may look for A Summer to Die. The title alone seems appropriate right now.
If you don’t find it in your library, Linda, I’ll bring my copy when I come visit.
What a great tribute to Linda Andersen’s husband, Scotty! He was a loving, kind man with a great sense of humor. Thanks for reviewing books to help with the loss of a loved one.
My pleasure, Joan.
Dear Linda, thanks for the shout-out about my blog and book. Are things settling down for you? Love, Sarah
Things are better. Thanks for asking. I’m doing a little better too. I hope things are well with you and your family also. Thanks for commenting.
You are welcome for any recognition I put out there. My pleasure.