RASPBERRIES ON THE YANGTZE by Karen Wallace

RASPBERRIES ON THE YANGTZE

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Nancy, her brother Andrew, and their friends Amy and Clare Linklater, try to figure out what’s going on at their neighbor Sandra Wilkins’s house in this coming-of-age story set in 1950s rural Canada. Outwardly pious, Mrs. Wilkins is extremely strict, Sandra’s older sister Tracy has gotten pregnant and plans to run away with the baby’s father, and Sandra herself is a liar who uses Nancy as a scapegoat whenever Sandra gets in trouble. Free spirits Amy and Clare live with their widowed mother and play with Nancy in the woods and fields around their houses; they pick raspberries, climb trees, and bounce on an old fence Nancy’s christened the “Yangtze.” A subplot includes Mrs. Linklater’s secret romance with Mr. Chevrolet, a jovial Polish neighbor whose real name the children can’t pronounce, but who loves children and doesn’t mind being named after his car. The portrayal of small-town gossip and snobbery are well done, and the characters are familiar archetypes. Nancy and her friends seem a bit too naïve for the intended age level; they grapple with sophisticated themes of religious hypocrisy, personal privacy, and premarital sex yet they don’t know what the facts of life are, still watch cartoons, and play with dollhouses. The way they act may be very realistic for 1950s rural Canada, but readers old enough to understand what’s going on may not be able to relate to them. The bonds of friendship and friendly sibling rivalry ring true for any age, however, and the many plot twists, turns, and secrets will keep readers motivated. The contrast between the Wilkins family’s disintegration and the Linklaters coming together with Mr. Chevrolet adds a poignant twist to Nancy’s coming of age. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 11th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-72963-4
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002




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