Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary

I'm realizing that I must love coming of age stories because there are an awful lot of them in this blog. But then one could argue that any story is a coming of age story. My second nonfiction selection is definitely a memoir of growing up. Beloved children's author Beverly Cleary's A Girl from Yamhill is as good as it gets in this genre. She details growing up during the depression in a small Oregon town in such readable prose, you won't be able to put the book down. Cleary faces everything most of us face--school troubles, family problems, boy issues--and you can see how these themes take root and later inform her writing. I grew up reading the Ramona books--the quirkiness of the main character set her apart from other popular characters of the time. The honest, conversational tone of A Girl from Yamhill sets it apart from much of literary (auto)biography. This volume covers only the first part of Cleary's life--up to her departure for college. The second installment, My Own Two Feet, continues her story into adulthood. I didn't like volume two as much, maybe because Cleary's best when focusing on childhood--hers and her characters.

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