Jesse Aarons is the class misfit. Something of a dreamer, and a talented artist, he just doesn't fit in with his practical, competitive classmates. But Leslie Burke moves next door at the beginning of their fifth-grade year, and the two eventually become best friends. Leslie shows him that a different life is possible.
I'll just say it--this book irritated me to no end. It was crawling with Southern stereotypes. For a book that's trying to show that there's a place for everyone in the world, I just really found that unacceptable. It seemed like most of the characters went by two names: May Belle, Joyce Ann, Wanda Kay. I'm sure there were more. And then there was the fact that everyone, except for Jesse, Leslie, and her family, couldn't speak without throwing a double negative in there. It happens. It's not as bad as this book makes it sound. And then there was the way that all the poor kids were stupid, narrow-minded, and ignorant, and their parents beat them when they weren't in jail. Give me a break.
Had I read this when I was younger, I would probably have overlooked all of that and just focused on the story of the beautiful friendship between Jesse and Leslie and how she showed him that there is a bigger world out there and how we should always show each other kindness. That's a great message. But I didn't read it when I was younger and right now I just don't care.
Reviewed May 25, 2009
Read an excerpt.
Find author Katerine Paterson on her website.
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Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
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