Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Child's Eye View of Growing Up in a Large Family

With nine siblings growing up on a farm in the Maine woods, Helen Peppe had an unusual childhood. The farm boasted a variety of animals, but as every farmer knows some of the animals become food for the family. Helen had great difficulty with this as a child because she wanted to love all the animals. The tension between feeding the family and Helen's love of animals is a theme that is repeated throughout the book.

Being the youngest in a very large family, no one had time to give exclusive attention to Helen. She grew up gathering her ideas of life from watching what people did, overhearing scraps of conversation, and asking numerous questions of anyone standing still. I found it fascinating to see how she looked at her family since it was a very unique point of view.

The book is filled with anecdotes, some amusing, some sad. My favorite was catching the pig the family found walking along the road when they were on the way to spend time at a summer camp. Catching a pig and holding on to it can be difficult and highly amusing.

Although I enjoyed the book, I found the writing unsatisfactory at times. I got tired of reading the rather drawn out descriptions of her siblings, such as my hair-twirling-pretty sister, each time they appeared. I wish she'd used pseudonyms. My other quibble was in the disjoint character of some of the incidents. For example, in the barn fire chapter, we start with a rather lengthy description of Helen's desire to steal some of the pink pie when everyone's back is turned. We move from that to the barn fire and then back to the pie. While I'm sure this is the way it happened, reporting on life can make a good story disorganized.

This is a humorous book with some heart warming aspects. Although the author's tends to ramble, it's illuminating to see how a child views the world.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley