Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reading Journal Entry: The Lost Mother

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is set in Vermont during the Depression as it is experienced by 12-year-old Thomas and his spunky little sister Margaret. The opening line says, "They said it was bad for everyone, but nobody else the boy knew had to live in the woods." As the story begins, it is summer, so it does not seem so terribly bad to have to live in a tent. The worst thing is missing their beautiful mother who just up and left one day, supposedly to work in a factory. The children are certain that she will come home just as soon as she has saved enough money. Their father is an itinerant butcher who struggles to provide for them, and often must leave them alone as he scours the countryside looking for work. He is devastated by his wife's desertion, but the children misunderstand his anger and bitterness. A prosperous neighbor woman begins to woo the children to be companions for her pitiable, but warped, son--and soon events spiral out of control. One reviewer compared this author to John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers, and I would have to agree that her story has elements of both, and is "a gritty, beautifully crafted novel rich in wisdom and suspense."

For the illustration of this book review, I decided to use a photo of my mother who was a child during the Depression. It was serendipitous that the only photo I have of her during that era shows her holding a cat, since one poignant episode in the book is what happens to Margaret's cat and Thomas's part in that. A significant, recurring theme in this story is Thomas's ambivalent feelings toward Margaret. It is obvious that he loves her and feels responsible for her well-being, but she also aggravates and exasperates him. Sometimes this leads him to do mean things to her, which he regrets even as a 70-year-old.

I wrote the title in casual Roman caps that I learned from Sherri Kiesel. These were done with a black .8 Copic Multiliner pen, with the horizontal lines drawn by a Scarlet Red Prismacolor pencil. The background is acrylic paint in three shades of green (Celedon, Sage, English Ivy) with touches of Sandstone. The text was written with a .05 Copic pen.

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