Monday, September 17, 2012

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

Up a Road Slowly 
by Irene Hunt
narrated by Jaselyn Blanchard  
  1964 (2012 edition)

Book Jacket Summary
The author of Across Five Aprils and No Promises in the Wind presents one of her most beloved novels, the Newbery award-winning story of a girl’s coming of age… Julie would remember her happy days at Aunt Cordelia’s forever. Running through the spacious rooms, singing on rainy nights in front of the fireplace. There were the rides in the woods on Peter the Great and the races with Danny Trevort. There were the precious moments alone in her room at night, gazing at the sea of stars.

But there were sad times too—the painful jealousy Julie felt after her sister married, the tragic death of a schoolmate and the bitter disappointment of her first love. Julie was having a hard time believing life was fair. But Julie would have to be fair to herself before she could even think about new beginnings…

My Thoughts
Book jackets can be deceiving and this one made me think I was going to hear a contemporary novel about a young girl living with an aunt. Well, that is what I got but the contemporary setting was for a novel written in 1964. It is a very enjoyable book but it is very dated. There were phrases such as: a girl is not complete until she falls in love. Gah! Very dated in that theory but it does give an accurate portrayal of the 1960's attitudes toward women. Although the women in this book are highly educated and are quite strong in character. 
I did like the relationships set up with Julie and Aunt Cordelia but I loved Julie and Uncle Haskell. Uncle Haskell is one of those characters that you love in a book but would hate to meet in real life. He is even more of a dramatic than Julie and has been writing his magnum opus for forty years. Julie understands him and does love him in her own way. Aunt Cordelia is a strict "maiden aunt" who take Julie in after the death of Julie's mother. She is a complex character that makes Julie life "miserable" but Julie comes to love her and finds Aunt Cordelia's house her home.
Julie is a very flawed character who tends to be very over dramatic and not think about the consequences of her actions. She wears her heart on her sleeve but erupts when something does not go her way. She is also cruel to a girl in her class who is mentally disabled and smells because her parents do not care about her. Julie is a child at this point and it is a truthful portrayal of how someone may have been treated in the 1950's. Julie does come to regret her actions but it is to late to take back what she did because Maggie dies and Julie is left with a guilty conscience. Julie mopes and whines but it is a very realistic look at how most teenagers are and how they grow as a person. What they learn through life can change them and lead to another outlook on life.
The love story is very well told because it is not just one boy the entire book (although we all know who we hope she falls for) but instead has her heart broken. This leaves to a self discovery that love must be equal and not just because a person is lonely.
I enjoyed this book and I think I will go through the other Newberry winners and see what hidden gems I have missed.

Book Pairings
 Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
A Higher Geometry by Sharelle Byers Moranville
Memories of Summer by Ruth White




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