Thursday, July 5, 2012

Looking for Me by Betsy R. Rosenthal

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Looking for Me 
by Betsy R. Rosenthal
166 pages
Library
Elementary Novel in Verse
2012

Book Jacket Summary
One of 12 siblings growing up in depression-era Baltimore, Edith isn't quite sure of who she is. Between working at her father’s diner, taking care of her younger siblings, and living in the shadow of her more mature sisters, Edith feels lost in a sea of siblings. When a kind teacher encourages Edith to be a teacher herself one day, Edith sees prospects for a future all her own. Full of joy, pain, humor, and sadness, this novel in verse is a wonderful look at the life of Edith Paul, the author's mother, and is an enduring portrait (complete with family photos and an author's note at the end) of one family's pursuit of the American dream.

My Thoughts
Interesting look into a second generation Russian immigrants life in 1936. There are twelve children and  Edith tells there story through verse. She talks about the trials of having so many brothers and sisters but also the joys in having a large family. The book goes into the Jewish traditions and also the tauntings that Edith endured from her fellow students. At one point a new friend pokes at her hair trying to find horns! I am glad that rumor has fallen to the wayside in recent years.
The book is based off the author's mother and the times she had growing up. There are pictures in the back of the book that show the everyday life of the Paul family. Rosenthal did a lot of research into the family and recorded stories. She speaks of how the stories changed from person to person because each one viewed it in a different way.
A big change that rocked Edith's world was the death of little Melvin. This hit the family hard and changed much of the family's dynamic. Edith talks about how her family seemed to big before but now it feels to small. Especially since she was known as the "little mother" of the family and he would take care of Melvin and the other smaller children. Edith looks for her identity in such a large family. The nesting dolls on the cover are mentioned in the book and symbolize how Edith feels lost in so many other children.
Though a fast read, it has an emotional impact. I would recommend this one to those who love historical fiction and those looking for their own identity. Rosenthal does a great job of making Edith come to life through verse and making the world around her authentic.

Book Pairings
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
May B by Caroline Starr Rose
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
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