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THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE

Book Review: THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE

THE PROMISE OF THE FIRST PAGE, Part Two
By Marjorie Light

In my last post I explained an activity Kate Messner and I do with our Creative Writing Class, reading the first page of a novel and discussing the promise it holds. One of the books used was THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE by Bonnie Shimko. We were fortunate enough to have an ARC of this novel, due out May 2010 from Farrar Straus Giroux


The title of the first chapter reads, "My mother tried to kill me before I was born. Even then I disappoint her." The students gasped in horror or laughed at the irreverent tone, depending on their dispositions. When they heard the entire first page, they nodded, smiled, and eagerly discussed the promise of this book. Comments included: “I think we’ll learn about a weird family.” “It sounds funny.” “I like that it is set near this area.” “The main character seems really sarcastic.” Many of them exclaimed, “I want to read that one next!” It is a choice they won’t regret. I’ve read THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE twice, and the second reading was as enjoyable as the first. While I missed the discovery I had from the first reading, I did have the pleasure of finding more of the gems of Shimko’s writing. Her work is well crafted and insightful.

Shimko’s novel grabs the reader right away with its feisty tone and the spirited voice of the main character, Amelia. THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE takes us back to 1960’s in the far corner of Northeast New York. Amelia is a fourth-grader who lives in poverty with her horrible mother. Her savior was her brash grandfather, until a sudden calamity changes their family dynamics. Sullivan’s Falls is a lackluster place, but hope arrives when Fancy Nelson moves to town. Fancy and her mother are the first black people in town. While Amelia and Fancy join together to combat the boys who have tormented Amelia her entire life, there are times the girls keep their own secrets. (And there are plenty of secrets in this novel with Margo LaRue, the town floozy; Judge Watson, the seemingly respectable magistrate; and Amelia’s father, the missing minister.)

THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE has themes of friendship, family, and survival. The flow of the story is fast-paced and the voice impeccable. Even though Amelia’s home life is chaotic, she finds people who will support her. These characters tie into the various story arcs that thread through the story. In the end, there are a few kinks to unravel, but Shimko does it naturally (and with an interesting twist.) One big bonus: Reading about Amelia’s dysfunctional family has its benefits… you find out through the use of humor there are people out there who have it worse than you. The reader knows that from the first page…and Shimko keeps the promise through to the end.
 

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Apr. 29th, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
what is the climax and the falling action of this book?
marjorielight
Apr. 30th, 2012 11:23 am (UTC)
Are you doing a book report? :-)
Tell me which section of the story you are guessing it is and I will see if I agree. (But make sure you put "SPOILER ALERT" on your post...I hate to give away the ending of a book!!)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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