Monday, October 6, 2014

Tough Times, Tough Characters

Legendary writer Sid Fleischman said a strong villain is the writer’s best friend. The main character must become stronger to overcome the monstrous villain. A stronger villain and a stronger main character make the story stronger. The same could be said for obstacles.

EVERY DAY AFTER by Laura Golden, Delacorte Press, 2013

Author Golden has created conniving, bad-tempered villains and painful obstacles to challenge her main character, 11 year old Lizzie. The year is 1929, harsh for everyone. Her father leaves, abandoning his wife and Lizzie. This pushes her mother into leaving, too, mentally and emotionally.  

Lizzie is not an orphan. Or is she? Dad could return. Lizzie is sure he will be back in time for her 12th birthday.  Mom could get well. If she doesn’t, it won’t be because Lizzie didn’t try—hard.

One of Lizzie’s classmates wants to see her shipped off to an orphanage. This gal is so jealous of Lizzie, she bleeds green. The reader will wonder what sets this villain off.

The bank wants to take the house. Lizzie’s grades, a source of pride for her father, begin to drop.

There are good characters willing to help but they don’t know Lizzie needs help. To let them know would, in Lizzie’s eyes, be letting down her father.

Lizzie writes in her journal, looks at her father’s face in the heirloom locket he left her, and wonders why he left and what will happen if he doesn’t come home. These are tough times for everyone in Bittersweet, AL, but Lizzie also suffers from isolation, keeping out those who could do something to make her life better. The reader, pulling harder and harder, page by page, for Lizzie to triumph, wonders when Lizzie will realize that her father has let his family down.

Every Day After is author Golden’s first novel but it won’t be her last. Her inspiration for this one was her paternal grandmother who lost her mother at the age of 12. She was left with a strict father in circumstances similar to the ones Lizzie endures.

Historical fiction helps us see how far we’ve come. If you are trying to train your tweens to sort and wash dirty clothes at your house, Lizzie’s laundry chores will make everyone thankful for your washer and dryer. They might even help you cheerfully.  

 

 

 

2 comments:

  1. Stories set in the early 20th C can break my heart. I think of my parents and my older brother, young during these times, and how different life must have been for them than for me. I'll look for this book: it sounds as if it has the immediacy I like in historical fiction. Thanks Joan -- Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Always good to hear your comments, Sandy. My family bore the impression of those times, too. Waste not, want not!

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