Thursday, July 27, 2006

Firegirl, Francine, and Penny

Just finished these three, and they eerily flow naturally from one to the next.

Firegirl. Well, frankly, I'm unimpressed. It's a lovely story, and worthy--but I can barely remember it a week later. The characters never felt like more than pawns to me. Whereas:

in The Loud Silence of Francine Green, another quiet-protagonist-befriends-outsider-new-girl-at-Catholic-school story, there's so much more. Francine's accomplishment at the end is believable, and worthy enough, and not the over-the-top transformation I feared was coming. The history (because this is historical fiction even though it's only 1950) works with the story and despite it (whereas in Firegirl the story never kept stride with the message) ... and does exactly what history is supposed to do: leaves readers with a sense of what they themselves can do today to make their own world better.

Same time period, opposite coast: Penny From Heaven. (Ok: who picked the awful cover?) Holm, like Cushman, is a writer who knows her characters. Penny is instantly engaging, and each member of her extended Italian-American family is vivid in my mind weeks later, even though I met them (uh, read about them) at the height of my ugly sinus-viral thing in the middle of a heat wave. Luckily, my memories of that week are of 1953 New Jersey: the Falucci's butcher shop, Uncle Dominic's car, Scarlett O'Hara peeing on the rug, and the poor, poor milkman. A "period piece"perhaps--but so excellently done.


Blogger sharon said...

i'm trying to keep up with all of these! really want to participate in a mock this year (for obvious reasons)...

anyhow, i agree completely about firegirl. i read an advanced copy many months ago, and enjoyed it, but didn't find it particularly memorable.

haven't got my hands on either of these others yet, but i'll have to try harder!

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved penny from heaven. I think you give a good description that can be a good guide to others

3:54 PM  

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