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PICTURES, 1918 by Jeanette Ingold

PICTURES, 1918

By Jeanette Ingold

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-201809-3
Publisher: Harcourt

An innovative novel from Ingold (The Window, 1996, etc.), in some ways reminiscent of Patricia MacLachlan’s Journey (1991), where photography serves as the metaphor for a clarifying of many kinds of vision. In 1918 in Dust Crossing, Texas, Asia is a high-school junior. As the story opens someone has set fire to her family’s chicken house and Asia has lost a pet jackrabbit in the blaze. The experience starts her thinking about loss and change, and the precarious balance of life. With WWI raging, there’s plenty to think about; boys Asia’s age, 17, are going off to fight. There are changes at home, too: Asia’s grandmother, a strong woman who has always been a bulwark, is having memory problems and lapses of strange behavior. Romance begins to blossom between Asia and Nick, a boy who’s always been her best friend; Nick’s cousin, Boy Blackwell, who is rabidly anti-German, likes Asia, too, and she finds herself in the middle of an uncomfortable rivalry. At first Asia wants to take pictures to capture and preserve the present. But as she becomes more involved with the photographic process (buying a camera and apprenticing at a local studio), she acquires a different view of the world. Ingold makes vivid the last days of WWI, March to November, relayed in a first-person present tense that gives Asia’s growing-up a very contemporary texture. This perceptive novel has believable characters and complex, evolving relationships. The element of mystery about the fire, gratifyingly played out, leads to a satisfying, fully-rounded conclusion. (Fiction. 10-12)