Newbery Book Review

A Gathering of Days

It is 4:59 pm on Monday afternoon and instead of logging off my computer, pushing my chair in and slipping into my jacket to finally leave the office and head home I am in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, coughing up a lung.  Ahhh…this is the life?  Several of my co-workers were out sick last week and then this past weekend several more friends from our church retreat got sick as well.  As luck would have it, sore throat, nasty cough and headache sent me home from the office early today.  It’s a good thing too considering I still had not finished my book from last week.

A Gathering of Days by Joan W. Blos took me awhile to finish and not because of its length.  Even though I faithfully took it with me everywhere I went I very rarely cracked the spine.  (deep prolonged sigh)  It ended up not being too bad, but one of the few reasons I actually stuck it out and finished it was because of this here blog and quest.

Remember last week when I mentioned going back and reading through some of my old diaries and cringing at what I’d written?  Ironically enough, this book was a diary.  The diary’s author was Catherine who lived on a farm in New England around the mid 1800’s.  She lived with her dad and younger sister, her mom having died several years earlier while giving birth to a boy who also died.  The diary spans approximately a year and gives a glimpse into the work of keeping a farm through each season.  The controversy of slavery is touched on sporadically but the reader is under the impression that the country is on the brink of some big change.  The diary entries vary from the detailed events of what’s going on at school to a one line description of the weather.  I found the diction difficult to understand because Blos wrote it in the voice of someone from the 1800’s.  Smart plan on her part but difficult for me, the reader, to understand at times the meaning behind the different grammatical structure or vocabulary.

The book begins and ends with a letter from the now very old Catherine to her great-great granddaughter.  Catherine thought her ggg, also Catherine, might enjoy reading her old journal.  After finishing the last journal entry there is the final letter giving a sort of epilogue about what happened to the characters.  What I take away from this book is found at the end of this letter:

“And remember, as we used to say, that life is like pudding: it takes both the salt and the sugar to make a really good one” (p 144).

It resonates with the reader who is just finishing a story where good and exciting things took place but where sadness was also deeply felt at the loss of what was held dear.  (Could I get any more ambiguous about what actually happened in here?  Probably, but I won’t.)

While I realize I probably didn’t do justice to last week’s winner I’m going to let it go because a) I’m sick and I don’t think my synapses are firing all that correctly, and b)  I’m just too excited for this week’s read…..THE WESTING GAME.  Oh man.  I listened to it during my many drives to and from houses for babysitting a few years ago and I loved it.  If anyone wants to join me this week I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love it as much as I did (do).  As weird as it sounds, I’m looking forward to reading something I’m familiar with.

Till next time.

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One thought on “A Gathering of Days

  1. wish i could bring you some chicken soup and all the cold/flu products that you could possibly need. i can’t help myself here…remember the apple cider vinegar cure? :) hope you wake up feeling better and if not…STAY IN BED FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!!!! :)

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