Aspen Books , 1997. Paperback.
Suggested retail price: $7.95 (US)
I am intrigued with the idea of young-women-themed books. I have adaughter in young women and another soon to be. Both are great readersand have liked books that are in series or have related themes. Of allthe young women values, this book's theme, "divine nature," "I haveinherited divine qualities which I will strive to develop," seems theleast straight-forward. So I was interested to see how this book woulddo.
Amaryllis Lilies follows the life of fifteen-year-old Tracy Barton. When her grandmother dies, her family makes a move to California to benear her grandfather. Tracy finds the move difficult, especiallyleaving behind her horse, her best friend and other favorite people. She does like living near her grandfather and visits often on her bike. He lives next door to a family called the Montagues. Mr. Montague is aninactive Church member whose son Kevin was never baptized. Mrs.Montague and her son Andre are Catholic. The Montagues hire Tracy tohelp care for their horses, and Tracy begins to spend quite a bit oftime with Andre. Andre is a troubled young man. He doesn't reallyaccept his mother's remarriage and was a witness to his own fathersmurder in South America. Tracy, who has her own problems (lack offriends, fatal illness of her favorite seminary teacher, lose of herhorse when she moved, and her grandfather's fading health), feels acertain closeness and empathy for Andre.
Some of the characters in the book are cliches, for example the blonde,beautiful older sister, a typical California girl who just happens tomove to California, or the absent-minded professor father with a goofylook and a single-mindedness towards science. And yet I found Tracy tobe a very believable character. She reacts in ways that seem consistentwith how a teenager behaves. I teach sophomores in high school and I'msure that I have met Tracy more than once. Tracy also has believablerelationships with the others in her family. She is jealous of hersister's popularity and good looks but still tries to look after her andprevent her from forming a bad relationship with Kevin Montague.
Tracy's troubles are also real. I meet plenty of problems in a year,from pregnancy to broken homes and every other minor and major problemthat you can imagine. The only problem I had with Tracy's problems isthat there are just too many of them. Rarely in my experience (and I'veseen some pretty messed-up people) does every aspect of your life gocrazy at once. Tracy has family problems, health problems, friendproblems, and boy-girl problems at the same time. You can see thatTracy could really use an understanding of her divine nature, but it'slike she doesn't get a chance. In real life I can imagine a youngperson who has gone through as much as Tracy coming to a point where shegoes out and discovers her divine nature, but there's not much hint ofthat here.
Still, this was a fun book and kept me reading, and I think young womenwill relate to it. I sometimes get the feeling that's how teenagers seethemselves, just living from crisis to crisis, so maybe that's not a badapproach from that point of view. If you're looking for a gift for ayoung woman (or you're like me and are young at heart), you won't gowrong with this one.
Robin Parkinson lt;firstname.lastname@example.org;
© 1997 Robin Parkinson