Monday, August 22, 2011

EARTHSHINE by Theresa Nelson

This is part of a series spotlighting gay parents in YA and MG. Please visit Jonathan Arnston’s blog for more. See my posts from earlier this week.

From School Library Journal: Twelve-year-old Slim's father, Mack, is dying of AIDS, which seems incongruous for a man who brings life into a room just by walking into it. When she reluctantly joins a group of contemporaries who have relatives dying of the disease, she meets Isaiah, 11, whose optimism makes her sad and hopeful at the same time. Slim's first-person narrative concentrates on herself, her father, and Larry, his lover and devoted companion, and their relationship with Isaiah and his loving mother.

Nelson uses all her tools skillfully. The violent swings of weather and natural phenomena of the Los Angeles area- hard rains, brilliant sun, an earthquake with its unsettling aftershocks-reflect Slim's roller-coaster emotions. Major and minor characters are real people and never case studies. And the author's use of language expresses both the action and underlying feelings while remaining true to the voice of the narrator. The gripping story, which includes a healthy dose of humor, ends gently with Mack's death. This special book should find a wide audience. Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

My review:  
I almost can’t say it better than Ms. Kellman, though that review was written in 1994. In fact, my only criticism of the book is that it is less contemporary than the one I reviewed yesterday, which certainly isn’t the book’s fault. It had me marveling that we don’t hear about people dying of AIDS in the same way as the early 90’s. The way the book is written, however, any disease could be substituted and it would still ring true. It’s a book about how a girl comes to terms with her family. She realizes that sometimes people don’t have to be related by blood to be family.

In particular, I loved the character of Larry. He quietly helps his partner leave this earth, while caring for Slim. Yes, you’ll cry at the end. Have hankies handy

EARTHSHINE seems to be classified as YA, but I’d say upper MG. Published by Laurel Leaf, 1994


Ansha Kotyk said...

Great review Kris!

Jonathon Arntson said...

"It’s a book about how a girl comes to terms with her family." And that makes a great YA book, for me!

Thanks for an excellent review, piggy-backing off the PW was a smart idea, you complement each other.

Laura Pauling said...

Yes, anyone can relate to a girl coming to terms with family. That is YA or MG. Primal. :)