Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Certain Strain of Peculiar

Gigi Amateau's Chancey of the Maury River is one of my favorite books of the past five years, so I was eager to read her latest middle grade novel, A Certain Strain of Peculiar, published in 2009 by Candlewick. I only recently got around to reading it, and I'm glad I did.

I like quirky characters, and this book is full of them. The protagonist—Mary Harold Woods (aka Cricket)—is the "grossest" girl that all her classmates pick on. Plus, she doesn't have a father. When she tries to convince her forest ranger mother to leave Virginia and move back to Wren, Alabama, her mother doesn't go for the idea, so Cricket takes off in the truck one night and drives to Grandma Ayma's house. What she doesn't know is that her mother figures out where she is going and gets there first.

Cricket's mom (Bye) agrees to leave Cricket in Wren, but asks Ayma to get her a cow of her own. Neighbor Bud gets her one and tries to convince Bye to stay and take a job that's opening in a nearby forest, but Bye heads for home. Bud—whose wife has left him—has two peculiar children: Dixie, who thinks she's a horse, and Delta, who's a mean little brat. Cricket, who knows what it's like to be the odd one out, becomes Dixie's protector.

During the summer, Cricket sheds her previous persona. She cuts her hair, becomes strong (both physically and mentally), takes on bullies, and gains a renewed sense of self. I won't give away any more of the plot, other than to report that there's eventually a happy ending.

A Certain Strain of Peculiar is a good read, a book any young girl who's struggling with her inner demons—or dealing with bullies—should read. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.

Amateau has done a splendid job capturing the angst of early adolescence. I recommend the book.



Blogger Rowdy said...

The title alone is enough to capture my attention.

7:40 PM  

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