Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: A Girl from Yamhill & My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary

A Girl from Yamhill & My Own Two Feet by Beverely Cleary
Reviewed by Christine-Chioma

Published: 1988 (A Girl from Yamhill) & 1995 (My Own Two Feet)

It's about: These two books are autobiographies from Beverely Cleary, the famous writer of the much-beloved Muggie Maggie, Dear Mr. Henshaw, and the Ramona series. A Girl from Yamhill covers some family history, Clearly's girlhood and young adulthood in Oregon until she leaves home for college. My Own Two Feet takes off where A Girl from Yamhill finished and covers Clearly's life up until the publication of her first books.

I thought: These are some of my favorite books. I was delighted to know that some of the stories about Ramona were based off Cleary (such as taking one bite into multiple apples because the first bite tastes the best). There were a lot of humorous parts in the memoirs especially in A Girl from Yamhill. Cleary didn't sugarcoat her life. I was impressed by Cleary's candor especially in regards to the strained relationship between her and her mother. Although written several decades after the events occurred, Cleary was able to appropriately capture her thoughts at various ages and stages in her life. She is a great story-teller and someone who understands children well. It was fascinating to read about life during the Depression, what college was like for women in the 1940's, and her impressions of the pacific northwest and California, which are place that are very dear to me. I am really impressed by Cleary and think she's a great role model for women. She has a website that is worth checking out as well.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf or Rubbish Bin? Stick it on the shelf! I wish she had continued writing more about her life.

Reading Recommendations: For young (12ish) and older! The books easily flow into each other and I think the only reason they aren't just one book is because of the length and because she wrote the second book years later, but I would definitely recommend reading both.

Warnings: Nothing at all offensive

Favorite excerpts: Sometimes it was Uncle Fred, my father's oldest brother, who had a fascinating bald head. After we passed him, Mother said, "You mustn't stare at Uncle Fred's bald head. You might hurt his feelings." How could I hurt his feelings when I so admired his bald head? I once tried to cut off my own hair so I would be bald, too. - A Girl from Yamhill

Claudine and I studied The Century Handbook of Writing, giggling all the way. Examples seemed even funnier. When we came to Rule 68, "Avoid faulty diction," we studied the examples: "Nowhere near. Vulgar for not nearly." "This here. Do not use for this." "Suspicion. A noun. Never to be used as a verb." Our conversation became sprinkled with gleeful vulgarisms we had never used before. When I announced my presence by noisily tap-dancing on the Klums' wooden porch and probably annoying all the neighbors on the block, Claudine said she was nowhere near ready for school. "I suspicioned you weren't." Claudine's reply was something like, "This here shoe-lace broke." - A Girl from Yamhill

I knew they were thinking of me and missing me more than I, on the brink of a new life, was missing them - My Own Two Feet

I was not entirely sure I wanted to stay with relatives again. Even though I loved them all there had been moments of discomfort, of not knowing where I stood, of feeling I was not doing the right thing. Beneath my happiness there had been some strain... - My Own Two Feet

Some of Professor Lehman's words also echoed through my mind: "The minutiae of life", and "the proper subject of the novel is universal human experience." - My Own Two Feet

What I'm reading next: The Age of Miracles  by Karen Thompson Walker