CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 15 . . . . December 9, 2011
Ten-year-old Joy narrates this story of the year her parents separate. Although Mom seems rarely to interact with the family (she spends a lot of time smoking alone outside or visiting with her sisters who live nearby), Joy, Alex, and Alla seem unprepared for the day when she packs up and moves out. Luckily, because Dad seems to work from home, childcare is never an issue; nevertheless, the kids (Joy especially) are predictably upset by the turn of events. However, by Christmas, everyone seems to have reached a truce, with Dad feeling comfortable enough to spend the afternoon with his wife’s extended family.
Folger’s first novel suffers from a lack of “show-don’t-tell,” and her adult characters feel very one-dimensional. George seems the perfect dad—he cooks, cleans, and takes time to know his children—while Mary seems a shoo-in for the next “Mommy-Dearest.” In one particularly egregious scene, Dad and the kids return from a trip to the emergency room to find Mom packing up and attempting to sneak away without anyone noticing. Everyone deduces her plan, but Mom never asks the reason for the ER trip or the prognosis for her youngest child. Later scenes of the kids visiting Mom find her sending them off to watch television while she talks with her sisters.
Recommended with reservations.
Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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