CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010
Nine to Ninety: Stories Across the Generations.
Toronto, ON: Wordwrights Canada, 2009.
260 pp., pbk., $24.95.
Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.
Review by J. Lynn Fraser.
It is a difficult task to write stories that appeal to several generations. When writing this type of book, the author must find a common perspective to engage her readers. In the example of Nine to Ninety, author Ioannou imparts gentle lessons in humanity in her stories, relating them with clear prose and humour.
Social perceptions and misperceptions are a theme in the book. In the story ‘I’d call that kindness,’ the author tells a tale about what to outsiders seems to be a May – December romance, but with Ioannou’s deft touch becomes an observation on social expectations, bias, and self awareness:
I missed Mr. J. and our outings. Not in the ordinary way, where you do and say whatever you want, and your pals put up with, or share, your faults. No, we each played a role…But we also made each other feel better than anyone had, for a long time….
Looking back, I’d call that kindness. One night a week I was beautiful. One night a week he was young.
In ‘The Quilt,’ the relationship between two women is portrayed during dramatic changes in both women’s lives. The quilt, originally a symbol of duty in the story, becomes a symbol of liberation when it is slowly unmade.
“There will have to be major changes—difficult changes—before I get everything right.” She frowned and looked away.
How small and weary she seemed. She had altered—not dramatically, but like the quilt, little by little before my imperceptive eyes….
She shook her head, “A stitch ripped for each luncheon, committee, and fundraiser I ever attended,” she said wryly.
For the teacher, the book offers numerous examples of literary concepts, such as point of view, symbol, and metaphor. It also draws our attention to the assumptions individuals make about themselves and each other — an important learning opportunity for young adults.
The vocabulary, literary, social, and historical references in the book are intriguing enough to challenge readers, but not intimidate them. Although the stories could have benefitted from a less Eurocentric emphasis, they will appeal to readers from a variety of backgrounds.
Located in Toronto, ON, J. Lynn Fraser is an author and freelance writer whose magazine articles appear in national and international publications.
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