________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 1999

cover Bloomability.

Sharon Creech.
London, UK: Macmillan Children's Books (Distributed in Canada by McClelland & Stewart Inc.), 1998.
213 pp., cloth, $17.99.
ISBN 0-333-72202-7.

Subject Headings:
Boarding schools-Fiction.

Grades 5 - 8 / Ages 10 - 13.
Review by Joan Marshall.

**** /4


"You don't use a hook?" Guthrie said. "No bait?"
"I'm not really fishing for fish," I said.
"Oh!" he said, wrapping me in a sudden hug. "You're a very interesting person, Domenica Doone."
Interesting? Had he said interesting?
"And you, Peter Lombardy Guthrie the Third, are such the best."
And, because it seemed that that needed some sort of follow-up, I kissed his such-the-best cheek.
That day, I fished for all of Switzerland, for every piece of it I had seen and everyone I had known there. I even fished for Lila. And then I fished for my father, my mother, for Crick and Stella and the baby. I fished for Grandma Fiorelli and Aunt Grace and Aunt Tillie.
When school finished at the end of May, I'd be going home.
Thirteen year old Dinnie's migrant family, led all over the United States by her father's always positive "opportunities," allows her to spend a year with her aunt and uncle while they run an international boarding school in Switzerland. Although Dinnie loves her unusual family and misses them badly while she is away, she takes the "opportunity" to visit a foreign country. Only too well does she understand what it means to be the stranger at a school, and she struggles along with everyone else to learn Italian, hoping the legacy of her Italian grandmother will help. As Dinnie gradually makes a place for herself and makes friends with the enthusiastic Guthrie, she also begins to understand the extravagant Lila. She faces some very real fears and starts to see more clearly her path in life. As the school year ends, Dinnie returns to her American family with a more solid understanding of the possibilities that are open to her.
      This is an amusing, touching, real book. It is a treat to read a YA book in which the characters are facing problems that many ordinary kids face. Young readers will identify with Dinnie's homesickness, her struggle to fit in with the crowd while remaining true to her own values, and her serious thinking about the meaning of life. The themes of defining home and of seizing opportunity run through the book like a crystal river. The title refers to a mangled version of "possibility" as one of the foreign students tries valiantly to express how, in the clear air of Switzerland, everything seems possible or "bloomable."
      Everything has growth possibilities, like the blooming of flowers. Dinnie's dreams punctuate each chapter, showing readers her hopes and fears. Her aunts' postcards remind her (and readers) of her family back in the United States. The poignant absence of any real communication from her own immediate family makes the reader ache for Dinnie.
      The setting of Switzerland is overwhelmingly beautiful, as if it really is a heaven in which anything can happen. The book revolves through a school year with an avalanche as the only dangerous or exciting plot twist. The real plot is the slow growth of Dinnie's thinking that blooms as the book progresses.
      Middle schoolers will love this book because it's funny and it's all about school and friends and growing up when you're not sure you want to. Adults will love it, too, for its lyrical language, its sudden insights, and its bloomability. Sharon Creech has written a great book. As Guthrie would say, "Fantastico!"

Highly Recommended.

Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian and enrichment facilitator at Henry G. Izatt Middle School, Fort Garry School Division, Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364