LUDIE’S LIFE by Cynthia Rylant
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 12 & up
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Readers familiar with Rylant’s work from their childhoods will feel comfortably familiar with the setting of this narrative. Some will recognize the “relatives” or the mountains or cups of coffee at the kitchen table and other autobiographical tidbits that have appeared in the body of the author’s work. Like so many others, this shares a spellbinding voice of the storyteller whose simple language and quiet voice manage to unfold a story resonant and meaningful on multiple levels. A novel-in-verse, this traces Ludie’s life from her birth in Alabama in 1910, until she dies at age 95 in West Virginia. She marries Rupe when he’s 15, because he’s “tall and kind.” Rupe secures work as coal miner in West Virginia and they move to start their lives together. She doesn’t tell her story chronologically, and there is no plot to speak of. It’s a near elegy celebrating a special character, a woman who practiced what she preached, and the special, if not basic, life she led. The narrative is often a collection of Zen-like moments of self-discovery and serenity. Of course, Rylant can’t resist an occasional thinly disguised critique of contemporary American culture, where so many are lonely and disconnected from family. Ludie might not have had much money, but she was never lonely. A powerful read for young and old alike. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-15-205389-1
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2006


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