Jul 2, 2010

Nostlagic Friday: A Door Near Here

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

I read the 2000 release book A Door Near Here not long after my parents split up, which may have some slight impact on why it means so much to me. A truly compelling story, that has unfortunately been viewed in real life by many children.

Fifteen-year-old Katherine is the oldest of four children. She is also "mother and father" to those three younger than her. With an absent father, who doesn't really care anyway, and a mother who is unable to drag herself out of her vodka bottle, let alone her bed, Katherine thinks it'll be a cinch to pick-up where her mother left off.

All too quickly the fun and games of getting to do whatever they want takes a toll on the food supply and budget. Hiding the truth from everyone so that the family will remain together, also begins to wear on the children's shoulders. So much so that the youngest of them, Alisa, runs away from school in search of a better life for the whole family in Narnia. When a kindly teacher reaches out a helping hand, Katherine lashes out due to strain and puts everything she and the kids worked so hard for in serious jeopardy.

Wow. Katherine was the strong, independent, stubborn girl that I looked up to when I was a child. I felt like she really knew what she wanted and what was best and would stop at nothing to ensure that everything was done to the best possible standard. She fascinated me. Her youngest sister, Alisa, embodied the childlike thought that one can simply slip into a fantasy world and make the real world disappear. Nothing too awful ever goes wrong in those worlds and if it does, the hero/heroine comes along to save the day. It only makes sense that that should also happen in real life.

The tone of voice and plotline were so realistic I felt like I was listening to a friend recount a nightmare. It was so raw and accessible that I truly believe that any child, from youth to teen, can appreciate some aspect of this book. Even adults could discuss how each child exuded certain personality traits that helped and hurt the family's chance for survival.

While obviously not the happiest read ever, the stark reality and frankness was refreshing. Everyone can learn something from this book and I think it ranks on my top list of books that everyone should at least glance at during some point in their lifetime. I reminds me of the 1991 movie "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" and the Cynthia Voigt book Homecoming. If this book sounds appealing to you, be sure to check out these other items as well.


Mrs. DeRaps said...

Wow. Sounds like a powerful read. It's going on my wishlist.

Ayesha said...

wow this sounds like a brilliant read

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