A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE by Ann M. Martin
Kirkus Star

A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE

Age Range: 11 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In July of 1960, just as she is turning 12, Hattie Owen’s quiet, solitary summer—occupied with books, the various residents of her parents’ boarding house, small errands about town, and avoiding her grandmother—is disrupted, bringing a loss of a kind of innocence and a look at the wide borders of the world. Hattie’s autistic, emotionally challenged young uncle returns home to live with his parents after the institutional school in which he has lived half his life—and all of Hattie’s—closes permanently. Hattie’s well-to-do and severe grandparents are clearly burdened by their difficult child, but Hattie is intrigued, and charmed, by Adam’s rapid-fire way of talking, his free-associating, and his liberal use of dialogue from “I Love Lucy.” Adam’s quirky, childlike enthusiasm and his obvious delight with her endear him to Hattie immediately, as does his vulnerability to Nana’s strictures on behavior. When a carnival comes to town Hattie befriends Leila, a girl who travels in the carnival with her family, and it is Adam and Leila who together give Hattie her first birthday celebration among friends. Adam’s crush on one of the boarders at the Owens’ rooming house is the catalyst for the tragic ending, though Adam’s fundamental inability to protect his feelings in the world destroys him. His suicide and its aftermath—his siblings’ grief, his mother’s sudden remorse, Hattie’s courage to speak at his funeral—are nearly unsurprising, but moving nevertheless. In the end Hattie has had a glimpse into, as she says, “how quickly our world can swing between what is comfortable and familiar and what is unexpected and horrifying,” and she has opted for herself to live in such a world, to keep lifting the corners of the universe. Martin’s voice for Hattie is likable, clear, and consistent; her prose doesn’t falter. A solid, affecting read. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-38880-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002




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