Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Because I Have a Voice!"

Many book bloggers (and I include myself) seem to talk mostly about the newest, hottest books.  Can't blame them.  But I think it's important to occasionally step back and talk about books from years ago, especially the quiet ones, the books that might not have received a lot of buzz, the books that aren't filled with action and explosions and kids with special powers but are still, amazingly, in print.

Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco (Knopf, 2004, for ages 12 and up) is one of those quiet books.  It didn't make a certain online magazine's list of Top 100 YA Books for Feminists.  It didn't get a lot of buzz when it was published.  But it did get starred reviews in respected journals and received the Schneider Family Award in January 2005.

I pulled it off my shelf and re-read it today because I've just read the author's newest book and I'll be blogging about that on Monday.

So what's Tending to Grace about?

Well, if you've seen The King's Speech (and I hope you have, because it's the best movie I've seen in years, and not just because of Colin Firth!), you know the film delves into the life of King George VI, who happened to be a stutterer.

I want to emphasize this exchange between Bertie and Lionel: 

                             "Listen to me!  Listen to me!"

                             "Why should I waste my time listening to you?"

                             "Because I have a voice!"

Cornelia, the 14-year-old protagonist of Tending to Grace, also stutters.  She can't even say her own name.  But she's not royalty and no one's ever offered her speech therapy.  Dropped off by her mother at the crumbling farmhouse of eccentric Great-Aunt Agatha, Cornelia the city girl has to get used to a new way of life -- and the fact that her mother abandoned her there.  She loses herself in books and refuses to speak at all.  But no-nonsense Aunt Agatha won't accept her silence.  She knows Cornelia has a voice.

This slim novel is written in prose so strong and lyrical it sings. It's a luminous, lovely and quiet story that speaks to your heart.

What quiet novels (MG or YA) have YOU read recently?   (And what did you think of The King's Speech?)


  1. I will seen the King's Speech when it gets to video-- I love Colin Firth!
    This is a great recommendation. So nice to hear about a quiet book.

  2. Tending to Grace sounds like a book I should put on my TBR list.

  3. I hope you do see the film eventually, Katharine.

    And Kim, yes, find the time to read the book. It's short. Let me know if you can't find it -- I think there's a paperback copy left at the bookstore.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. Loser by Jerry Spinelli is a quiet book that I think all MGer's should read. And I haven't seen The King's Speech but it is on my to do list.

  5. Thanks, Brooke! And welcome. I checked out your blog and left a comment.

    Ah yes, Jerry Spinelli is almost the epitome of the quiet novel, isn't he? I love STARGIRL and MANIAC MAGEE, but he has so many wonderful books. I should read LOSER. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Didn't see The King's Speech yet. Like the books I read it usually takes a while before I see movies. I tend to read books that have been around awhile and watch older movies. I've never been on top of current trends much.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  7. I just went through the last 20+ books I read and not ONE has been a queit book. I think I need one. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. I love this idea of talking about books of yesterday that didn't receive much hype.

    I still have to see The King's Speech. I want to, but that's mostly because of Colin Firth. :D

  9. Hey, Natalie! Good to hear from you. Goodness, you sound as if you really do need a quiet book.

    Thanks, Stina. And I'd love to hear your reaction when you see the film. Colin's fantastic, of course, but the role is different from anything else he's done.

  10. Thanks, Lee. (I actually thought I answered your comment on Saturday.) Understandable, not seeing movies right away. I don't usually either. The King's Speech was the first movie in a movie theater I've seen in a year! But for books, I'm a bookseller, so I have to read what's current. I admire you for waiting and reading what you want to read.

  11. Such a good point about how we all focus on new books. I do it too, and I find I have to remind myself that kids aren't 40 year olds. :) Just because the book came out 10, 20 or 30 years ago, it's not "old news" to kids. It will still be new to them, and could be very powerful. Like the book you reviewed here. I've added it to my library list. :)

    Thanks for the great post.

    Betsy Parkes

  12. Thank YOU, Betsy! Excellent point about kids not being 40 yr olds. Ha! Yes, you're right.


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