A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I like to read YA fiction. Correction, I like to read anything that is well-written. Richard Peck is one of the good guys. What makes Peck's a delightful writer are his full and fascinating characters and his healthy sense of humor. In this instance, he also takes full advantage of the colloquialism and idioms from the rural Illinois setting, which adds loads of charm to his characters. A Season of Gifts is part of a companion series that includes A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder.
All three books center around an eccentric, old, salt-of-the earth woman named Mrs. Alice Dowdel and the children who become part of her life. (The books cover a swath of time from about 1930 to 1955.) She is no-nonsense and she intimidates everyone enough that they assume she wants to be left alone, but the truth is she's as kind and generous a person as you'll ever meet. Fourteen-year-old Bob Barnhart narrates A Season of Gifts, which begins with his family moving next door to Mrs. Dowdel. At first the Barnhart family keeps their distance from Mrs. Dowdel, but bit by bit she becomes a co-conspirator with Mrs. Barnhart, a patron to Mr. Barnhart, a teacher to sixteen-year-old Phyllis, a role-model to six-year-old Ruth Ann, and a savior to Bob.
I recommend A Season of Gifts for a fast and easy, palate-cleansing read. (Meaning sometimes I like to read light and easy stuff between my darker reads.)
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