Monday, March 6, 2017

14. The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

listened to on Audio cd in the car
6 unabridged cds, 7 hours
2017, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
352 pgs.
Middle grades Historical Fiction
Finished 3/6/17
Goodreads rating: 3.62 - 680 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: 1959 Hancock County, (Pennsylvania?)

First line/s: (from Chapter 1, Cammie, 1959)
"Breakfast time in the prison.  The smell of fried scrapple filled the apartment.  It happened every morning."

My comments:  I listened to this book.  I don't know if I would have read it.  I seem to be getting particular about the way a story starts, and this one did not immediately draw me in.  But the reader, Carrington McDuffie, with her smoky almost male-sounding voice DID begin to draw me in.  The story takes place in 1959 in Brooklyn New York, where Cammie is being raised by her single dad, who happens to be the warden of the county jail.  This is the story of a motherless girl during the summer before seventh grade, the summer when the loss of her mother becomes too much to bear.  It was a mesmerizing story.  The ending takes place 50 years later, still told in the first person by the protagonist, and I almost wish that it had ended back in 1959.  I'm not sure why Spinelli decided to write it this way.  Perhaps the ending is for the adult readers....  This was definitely a marvelous book, once you get into it.

Goodreads synopsis:  From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli (Maniac MageeStargirl) comes the "moving and memorable" (Kirkus Reviews, starred) story of a girl searching for happiness inside the walls of a prison.
          Cammie O'Reilly lives at the Hancock County Prison--not as a prisoner, she's the warden's daughter. She spends the mornings hanging out with shoplifters and reformed arsonists in the women's exercise yard, which gives Cammie a certain cache with her school friends. 
But even though Cammie's free to leave the prison, she's still stuck. And sad, and really mad. Her mother died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. You wouldn't think you could miss something you never had, but on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, the thing Cammie most wants is a mom. A prison might not be the best place to search for a mother, but Cammie is determined and she's willing to work with what she's got. 
           "Jerry Spinelli again proves why he's the king of storytellers" (Shelf Awarenss, starred) in this tale of a girl who learns that heroes can come in surprising disguises, and that even if we don't always get what we want, sometimes we really do get what we need. 
          "This book is never boring and never predictable. Fame, good and bad fortune, friendship and mental illness all make their way into [Cammie's] narrative."--The New York Times Book Review 
Praise for the works of Jerry Spinelli: 
          "Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion." --The New York Times 
          "It's almost unreal how much the children's book still resonates." on Maniac Magee

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