Judged by Steph • Find her on Goodreads
Before I begin, I feel like I should let you all in on little secret: I love books that revolve around families and relationships and life in general. They are my favorite type of books. And both books I was assigned to judge this match dealt with family relations and growing up and I loved that so much so thank you for that, Beth. Now, ahem, moving onto the book I was given, Saffy’s Angel and A Ring of Endless Light.
Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay is a HYSTERICAL book. I mean, I feel bad saying that because the plot mostly revolves around thirteen year old Saffy and how she feels left out and alone from her family after finding out that she was adopted as a toddler and that her parents are in reality her biological aunt and uncle and her brother and sisters are in fact her biological cousins. So the whole book deals with her feeling alone and trying to find a place where she feels like she belongs in her family. And you would think that the book would be sad with a plot like that, but it’s not and that is what make this book so GREAT and made me fall in love with it. The Carson family is just so robust and alive and while they are crazy and a little bit odd, they are also a very loving and understanding family who are there for each other.
Rose’s work of art took her all day, including two playtimes, story time, and most of lunch. At the end of school it was stolen from her by the wicked teacher who had pretended to be so interested.
“Beautiful- what-is-it?” she asked as she pinned it high on the wall, where Rose could not reach.
“They take your pictures,” said Indigo… when he finally made out what all the roaring and stamping was about. “They do take them… Why do you want that picture so much?” he asked Rose.
“It was my best ever,” said Rose furiously. “I hate school. I hate everyone in it. I will kill them all when I’m big enough.”
“You can’t just go round killing people,” Indigo told her.
The parents are crazy, a little self centered and oblivious to the needs of their four children (they are both artists) and a couple times I just wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them for their absentmindedness (the dad was worse then the mom though, by a wide margin). And as much as Saffy doesn’t believe she is as much their child as the other three children are, she is. The Carson parents love their children, they just don’t spend that much time tending to their emotional needs. But at that makes the bond the four children share very strong which I loooooved.
“She had to go,” said Rose.
“It was because of her angel,” said Indigo.
“And because of Granddad,” added Caddy.
“And because of her nose stud.”
“And because her name isn’t on the color chart.”
“She’s lonely,” said Rose. “That’s why.”
Also can we talk about Michael and Caddy and the driving lessons? Because he was a TERRIFIC addition to this story – “Don’t call me darling. I’m a driving instructor!” THE ABSOLUTE BEST.
And now onto A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. I feel I should preface this story by saying last year I read the preceding book in this series but I wasn’t in love with that book enough to continue reading onto this one. But now, after reading A Ring of Endless Light, I feel bad for not continuing on because this book was so good. The Austin family! The dolphins! Adam! It takes place one summer when the main character Vicky is almost sixteen. Her grandfather is dying from leukemia and Vicky and her parents and three siblings are staying with him on his island home because he’s not expected to make it beyond the summer. (insert sadpanda gif here) If it sounds sad, well, it kind of is. Vicky and her family are very close and reading the book was difficult for me at times just because the grief and pain and worry and fear they each felt is handled so well. When little Rob started crying at one point, I nearly started crying. Also, the grandfather’s leukemia is not the only brush with death Vicky and her family experiences during this summer and so it really gets to the reader (or at least it did to me).
“If we knew each morning that there was going to be another morning, and on and on and on, we’d tend not to notice the sunrise, or hear the birds, or the waves rolling into shore. We’d tend not to treasure our time with the people we love.”
In addition to death, the other major plot line is that Vicky is being courted/dated/wooed (I don’t know what the cool kids are calling it these days, sorry) by three different boys. Three boys after you is confusing to any teenage girl but especially confusing when you add the fact that all three boys are going through their own personal struggles and trials and they are leaning on Vicky for support. It overwhelms Vicky a bit (can you blame her?) and makes her struggle with her feelings because she doesn’t really know who she likes as a friend or more. It’s funny because in any other book I feel I would be jealous of a fifteen year old with three boys vying for her attention (I know. I know. I’m a awful person) but I actually felt empathy and worry for Vicky because at times she was so busy trying to save these three young men from their demons that she lost track of herself. But I liked the ending, I liked who she called –“Vicky called me and I came” (BE STILL MY BEATING HEARTTTTT!! I am so hunting down the next book in this series just to see what becomes of that particular storyline).
Okay, so now my choice on which book I want to advance to the next round. Both books are good (duh!) but in the end, I chose Saffy’s Angel to advance pretty much based on the fact that it is happier and MORE uplifting than A Ring of Endless Light. I really fell in love with Saffy and her family and I laughed quite a few times while working my way through. A Ring of Endless Light, which I did end up liking, and I fell in love with that family too, had too many somber and sad moments for me and I was just not in the mood for that. At one point I almost stopped reading because it was making me sad but I continued because I knew I was reading it for this. I love books that get in my head enough to affect me, but this week I was not in the mood to be sad while reading. So Saffy’s Angel is moving on! Because someone else needs to read it even if it just to laugh with me at the car scene at the end:
“BE NICE. DO NOT HONK.”
“WE ARE TURNING RIGHT IN A MINUTE.
SHE HATES TURNING RIGHT.”