MAN OF THE FAMILY by Kathleen Karr


Age Range: 10 - 12
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A touching novel, part historical fiction and part family story, from Karr (The Great Turkey Walk, 1998, etc.); the protagonist is based on her father, whose family fled Hungary before WWI. Istv†n Csere’s parents immigrate to South Jersey and begin the hard struggle to make a living running a chicken farm. Istv†n’s first job is to baby-sit his four younger brothers and sisters. When his father goes away to work, Istv†n gradually takes over. His mother insists that he continue with school, violin practice, and farm chores; in the meantime, many hardships befall them. The incubator, set too hot, kills the baby chicks after they’re hatched, the mortgage man has to be dealt even though there is no money, and Istv†n’s mother is so homesick that she can’t eat. When Apa (the father) returns, the family’s life improves, but only temporarily; Apa grows sick and dies. Istv†n, at age 11, attends his father’s funeral and becomes the man of the family. This is a moving tribute to a fragile American family; Karr writes with feeling of the trials and tribulations their new homeland holds out, and the bittersweet triumph of their survival. (glossary) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-34764-6
Page count: 179pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999