Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Center of Everything

I love to visit independent bookstores. For one thing, they tend to have displays of staff favorites. A couple of years ago, Amy, Eileen and I were at Lambtown USA and drove over to Davis for dinner and a walk around the town. Understand that Lambtown is in July in the San Juaquin Valley of California so we were looking for inside places to visit, and one of them was a bookstore who's name escapes me. I bought this book as a recommendation and recently read it for a second time.

It's a first novel and written in the bildungsromans genre, which is just about my favorite. It's the story of ten-year-old Evelyn Bucknow, who feels there is no place like home. On all the world maps she's ever seen, the United States has been smack dab in the middle, with Kansas in the middle of that - "I feel so lucky to live here, right in the center." Dazzled by visions of Ronald Reagan on the TV, the twinkle in his eye and his contention that "God put America between two oceans on purpose," Evelyn's youthful optimism is shaken by her young single mother Tina's inability to take control of her life. The story spans several years. As a teenage, Evelyn is influenced by a couple of liberal-minded teachers, one from New York and the other an introverted biology instructor intent on teaching evolution. With renewed faith in her scatterbrained but endearing mother and with college on the horizon, she begins to find her place in the social and political spectrum and to appreciate the vastness of the world that extends beyond Kansas. The story treads the line between adolescence and adulthood, insecurity and self-assurance, and offers a moving portrait of life in blue-collar middle America.

I loved this book and look forward to her next which is supposed to come out later this year - hope she's not a one-book wonder.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Beautiful picture on the cover, I think I would have bought it just for that :).

If you were in Davis, at a new bookstore (as opposed to Bogey's used books) it was probably the Avid Reader.