ME AND RUPERT GOODY by Barbara O’Connor


Age Range: 10 - 12
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From O’Connor (Beethoven in Paradise, 1997), a second novel grounded by a clear sense of place, and by the well-defined characters who inhabit it. Jennalee spends most of her time with elderly Uncle Beau, the man who runs a general store. When Rupert Goody, a mildly retarded black man arrives, claiming to be Uncle Beau’s son, Jennalee doesn’t believe him for two reasons: Beau is white, and she’s afraid of losing her place as his surrogate daughter. She is determined to be hateful to Rupert, which, in light of his gentleness, is difficult. When the store is accidentally burned down, she realizes that Rupert is Beau’s son, and that she still has a place in the elderly man’s heart. By allowing Jennalee to tell her story in a strong and unique voice, O’Connor manages the difficult feat of showing her heroine acting spitefully without ever making her seem bratty or losing reader sympathy. The story is also about Beau and Rupert, both of whom wait patiently for Jennalee to understand and come to terms with Rupert’s presence. Perhaps wisely, the author doesn’t deal with the issues of Rupert’s mixed race or out-of-wedlock birth; the townspeople accept it, Jennalee eventually accepts it, and readers are expected to accept it as well. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-34904-5
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999