Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Itch by Michelle D. Kwasney

This is one of those heartfelt, personal stories that leave you feeling sad when you've finished the book -- not because the ending is sad (it isn't) but because you won't get to read about the characters anymore. The main character, Delores (called Itch after a bad case of poison ivy), has lived with her grandparents since her mother ran off. When Gramps dies suddenly of a heart attack, Gram decides that she can't stand to live in Florida anymore, where everything reminds her of him, and she takes Itch with her to live in a trailer park in Ohio, to be close to their cousin Effie. Itch really misses Gramps, who gave her lots of advice, such as, "Life is like a recipe. If you got two basic ingredeients --one, somebody to care about, who cares about you in return, and, two, a place to call home, no matter how humble --you'll be good to go." Itch finds plenty of reason to think back on things her Gramps told her, when she sees signs that her new friend, Wendy, is being beaten by her mother. Of course, Itch has to decide which is most important: to try to help Wendy somehow, or to keep her secret. Itch is also crazy about words, and at the end of the book is a list of her favorite ones, which includes enigma, persnickety, and talisman. Review by Stacy Church

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