________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 11 . . . . February 2, 2001

cover Raspberry House Blues.

Linda Holeman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2000.
238 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 0-88776-493-2.

Subject Headings:
Adopted children-Juvenile fiction.
Birthmothers-Juvenile fiction.
Stepfamilies-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7 - 9 / Ages 12 - 14.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

*** /4


"Are you wondering about your real father?" she asked me.

"Not really. But I do think about my real mother. I really want to find her. Meet her."

"Why?" she asked again.

I tried to find the right words. "I feel ... unfinished. Like I'm not real yet. And I can't be, until I find out about her."

"Not real?"

"The only time I feel complete is when I'm on the stage. When I'm someone else. Because then I know exactly who I'm supposed to be, what to think, what to feel. But when I come off the stage, and get rid of my costume and makeup, I don't feel real."

In the summer before grade 11, Poppy is stunned to find out that her adopted mother is going to Greece with her new boyfriend and will be leaving Poppy behind. Because Poppy doesn't want to stay with her mother's friend, she removes her savings and buys a stand-by ticket to visit her adopted father in Winnipeg, the city where she was born. She intends to use her visit to find out information about her birth mother. Her step-mother, Calypso, instructs her family on living a natural life without tv, meat, and many other things that Poppy considers essential, like a diaper on her baby brother, Sandeep. Poppy meets two people who slowly become important to her: Mac, in whom she is romantically interested, and Becca Jell, an actress who reveals some remarkable similarities to Poppy. Poppy becomes involved with her new family even as she strains to disengage herself from them. Will her determination to find her own mother help her find a new life, or keep her from realizing the value of the family that she already has?

      Poppy's desire to find her birth mother, an event which she is certain will transform her life into that of a fairytale princess, overrides all her other concerns. Her relationship with her adopted mother is completely overlooked in place of a relationship that doesn't exist. Instead, Poppy punishes her mother for not being a "real" mother by leaving Vancouver for her father's house. Poppy's move does not go easily. Her stepmother, Calypso, is pregnant and makes ends meet by sewing quilts. Poppy is asked to pitch in by babysitting her step-brother, Sandeep. At one point, Poppy muses that she should just walk around looking for someone whom she resembles. When she becomes acquainted with Becca Jell, one and one quickly become six. Foreshadowing in Poppy and Becca's meetings is not subtle and might bore more astute readers who will be certain of the story's outcome long before the end of the book. Scenes with Becca and Rakel, her caregiver, are overly melodramatic but they are balanced by the sweet and slowly developing relations in the Raspberry House. Readers will enjoy the relationships that develop between Poppy, Calypso and Sandeep, relationships which allow Poppy to realize that she is part of a family after all.


Betsy Fraser is a librarian with Calgary Public Library.

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