"In 1963, Ellie's mother, Doris Day Dingman, was crowned the Bosetti Beauty at Mr. Bosetti's supermarket, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the Dingmans began to fall apart." So begins 11-yr-old Eleanor Roosevelt Dingman's story. Ellie, who is about to start 6th grade in the small town of Spectacle, NY, is the oldest child in her off-center family. Her father works construction jobs, while her mother, Doris, has only one dream - to become a rich and famous actress. But when that dream leads to Doris's abandonment of the family, it is Ellie who is called upon to take charge.
I was really crabby about reading this book. I'm participating in a Random Book Challenge and this one was my first random pick. When I first added it to the TBR pile I did so on a whim thinking it sounded like a good "serious" read. I was not in the mood for seriousness. So needless to say, I wasn't jumping for joy when I "had" to read it. The beginning didn't help. There are about 10 kids and 10 adults introduced in chapter one, and I could not keep straight who was who! All I knew was that Elli was telling the story. Determined to stick to my challenge I kept reading.
Here's what happened. As I read, I watched a sweet little girl get picked on by classmates - literally slammed into lockers. I watched her do everything she could to keep her mother from leaving - but she left anyway. And I watched a mother walk away from 3 little kids and a husband that loved her. I had my heart ripped out over and over. Sounds like fun uh? It wasn't, but it wasn't suppose to be.
Did I like the book? Yes I did. BUT it will be one I'll recommend carefully to my students. It is so serious and, at points, painful to read, I'll want them to be ready for it. It's also one that I don't except everyone will enjoy. Some people will find it too slow, and others may find it hits too close to home. In the end I'm glad I was forced to read it. I would've missed a good, and yes serious, book.