Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

The Big Pink

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By Ann Pilling
Out of print.
Read: Initially, age 8/9. Reread Jan 2008.
Rating: Humn.

Once upon a time, when I was eight, we went on a trip to our homeland, South Africa. And there we went to a used bookstore (of course, this is MY family we’re talking about), and there I bought some comics (Perishers!) and this book. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. I hadn’t read much in the way of Boarding School Fiction, and a lot was lost on me. Back to the shelf. There was one scene that stayed with me, though, and we’ll get to that later.

Upon coming across the book godonlyknowswhere (I certainly don’t), I put it on by TBR shelves.

It’s definitely a first novel, with plenty of errors its intended audience (preteens) wouldn’t notice, but I do.

Our heroine, Angela, is a strange mix of wuss and smartass. She’s been bullied all her life for being fat and so she’s rather cowed when it comes to face-to-face interactions. She’s afraid of her aunt, who is the headmistress, and knows better than to put herself in the way of people who like to prey on fat people.

Angela knows she’s fat. She just wishes you would shut up about it and let her get on with her life, please.

She’s also quite smart. She sings well (but won’t sing in public because everyone knows Opera and Fat go together, and she WOBBLES when she sings), does well in classes, and has good survival skills. …and yet she lets stupid things slip by her.

It’s probably asking too much for a book for preteens to err on the side of realism. There are the usual ‘plot’ elements that could be easily avoided if the characters just used their heads. There’s young love making jealousy and stupidity go hand in hand.

What I like most about Angela is that she has the inner dialogue with her conscience. Her parents are religious people, and have gone to do mission work, leaving her at said boarding school. Angela’s mother has always insisted, before you speak ask yourself: Is it right? Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it true? At first Angela lets herself back down from what she really feels in the name of ‘nice,’ but she learns to stick to her guns when it comes to ‘true.’

Not one I’m going to make sure my kids read, but interesting from the perspective of an older reader who is studying writing.

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Written by Shen

April 21, 2008 at 12:35 am

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