Apr 16, 2012
Review - Looking For Me...in this great big family by Betsy R. Rosenthal
April 17th, 2012 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
One of 12 siblings growing up in depression-era Baltimore, Edith isn't quite sure of who she is. Between working at her father’s diner, taking care of her younger siblings, and living in the shadow of her more mature sisters, Edith feels lost in a sea of siblings. When a kind teacher encourages Edith to be a teacher herself one day, Edith sees prospects for a future all her own. Full of joy, pain, humor, and sadness, this novel in verse is a wonderful look at the life of Edith Paul, the author's mother, and is an enduring portrait (complete with family photos and an author's note at the end) of one family's pursuit of the American dream.
Looking For Me is based on the authors mother when she was eleven-years old, and touches on all those emotions that go-hand-in-hand with growing up in a "way-too big family." Jealousy, annoyance, joy, love, and anger. I recognize some of those emotions, I am one of those kids. Edith is child number 4 in a family of 12 - I am number 6 in...let's say a family of 8. Edith day dreams of being an only child and not having to share her clothes, her parents attention, and the air she breathes. She even has a bout of jealousy after her brother breaks his leg because he gets to spend the night alone in the hospital. Poor girl, you just feel for her. Here is one of my favorite passages:
I Wish I Had New Back-To-School Clothes
But in my family
You really get the sense that her family pinches pennies and makes every dollar stretch. I loved her families rich Jewish history and the way the author wove in traditions, language, and customs in this short novel in verse. There is even a Glossary in the back to help us with some Yiddish words. Every time we see Edith struggle with her family, we see another scene filled with love and understanding. Just terrific!
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You can find Rosenthal at her website