________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 15 . . . . March 26, 1999


Janey's Choice.

Bernice Thurman Hunter.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1998.
198 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-590-12497-8.

Subject Headings:
Family-Juvenile fiction.
Stepmothers-Juvenile fiction.
Home-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7/Ages 9-12.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

In Janey's Choice, Bernice Hunter Thurman has given readers a sequel to Amy's Promise, her 1995 award-winning book about the Phair family. Set in 1931, Janey's Choice tells the story of Janey, youngest member of the Phair clan, who was sent to Winnipeg after her mother's death to spend the first eight years of her life in the care of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Wallace. Janey has been back in Toronto for three years, living in the purple house with her father, Gramma, sister Amy and three older brothers, yet she often feels homesick for the Vine Cottage in Winnipeg. When an invitation comes for her to spend the summer holiday with her newly widowed "Papa" Wallace, she begs her father to allow Amy to go with her. Unfortunately, Amy is needed at home to keep house and take care of her ailing grandmother, and so Janey must make do with her brother Harry, who, at twelve, can still travel on the train for half-fare. Harry and Papa Wallace form an immediate bond, and when, in the middle of their visit, news comes that Gramma has died, Janey decides she must return to Toronto to be with Amy who, in her father's words, "...has been hard hit by the loss of her grandmother." Leaving Harry in Winnipeg, Janey returns to Toronto with her beloved marmalade cat, "Purry-Motor," to find that there have been some changes at home. Amy seems grouchy and out of sorts, the boys are becoming rude and disobedient, and Janey's father is courting an attractive widow.

      How Janey deals with her difficult family, (in particular her father, who is bad-tempered, impatient and given to preferential treatment of his children), by balancing loyalty to her sister against her family's need for a new mother, provides the major conflict in this story.

      Thurman's pace is unhurried, and her prose simple; however, her ability to select and describe vivid details, (perhaps from childhood memories), enables her to show, rather than tell, her readers about life in the 1930's. Although the novel has charm for an adult reader, (particularly those born early enough to feel nostalgia for the era she depicts), the gentle pace of the novel, so unlike the taut page-turners that line young adult shelves, and the 1930's setting may deter younger readers from persevering with the book. Fans of other Thurman novels, such as the "Booky" trilogy and especially those who were gripped by the poignant story of Amy's Promise will not be disappointed by Janey's Choice.


Valerie Nielsen is a recently retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364