IT AIN'T ALWAYS EASY by Kathleen Karr


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An enterprising orphan gathers up a new family for himself and a friend in this eventful first novel. New York City may be a hostile place in 1882, but Jack McConnell, 11, has made himself fairly comfortable there--until he and his newfound companion, eight-year-old Mandy, find themselves matched from their cozy hide-out and thrown out into the snow. After many adventures, the two wind up in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where they're forcibly given to different families. When Jack discovers that Mandy's new life is one of terror and continual beatings, he enlists the help of Miss Angeline Blackman, the only adult who has ever shown much interest in him, and her new beau, Nebraska rancher Red Rasmussen. The grown-ups swoop to Mandy's rescue and offer the happily reunited orphans a home out west. Though most of the adults here are self-absorbed, if not outright abusive, Kart creates both a set of plucky main characters and a clear sense of time and place. The sex roles are conventional, but the two orphans are admirable sorts: Mandy for her grit and heart, Jack for his intellect (though virtually unschooled, he owns and reads books by Dickens and Whittier) and ready industry.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1990
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux