Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink is a 1930s Newbery Award Winner, based on the experiences of the author’s own grandmother. Caddie is a creative and active 11 year old, resistant to the demands her nineteenth century culture demands of her because she is a girl. In this fictionalized volume of adventures, Caddie’s fun occasionally brings her in to danger, although her courageous spirit refuses to worry.

Although her stories are fun ones, it is does not capture my heart in the ways Laura Ingalls’s adventures do, and it does not provide the ultimate growth at the end of the book that gives satisfaction. Caddie has supposedly embraced some of her roll as a girl in her culture, but I am not convinced. Continue Reading

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan (Bloomsbury, 2012) is a literary theory light book for the masses of Austenites around the globe. But I hope that does not scare casual readers away from it, because What Matters in Jane Austen? is full of observations about the novels to help even the most casual of readers fall in love with Austen’s well crafted novels once more.Continue Reading

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When I was in high school, my American literature class studied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (published 1925) for more than a month. After we read it, we read and discussed critical essays, we got in groups and planned papers, and then each of us wrote a paper that was at least five pages about the novel. It was quite an experience. Five pages for a high school student is quite long.

I liked the book. I ended up studying English in college so I got to write plenty more critical analyses of novels. Yet, I haven’t recalled a deep and abiding love for The Great Gatsby. Maybe because we spent too long on it? Reading it this week, however, was a true joy.Continue Reading