Blume, Lesley M.M. 2007. The Rising Star of Rusty Nail.
The time: 1953
The place: Rusty Nail, Minnesota
The sleepy town had only one of everything: one grocery store, one church, one lawyer, one doctor, one bar, even one old drunk who shambled aimlessly around the town square. There was even only one stoplight, which hung desolately on a thick wire over the intersection of Main Street and Church Street. Sometimes the light worked, and sometimes it didn’t. But in any case, most of the townspeople drove their rusted Ford pickup trucks so slowly that it didn’t matter one way or another. Time dragged in Rusty Nail and nothing ever seemed to happen. Even the flies in the air seemed to stand still, as though suspended inside honey-colored amber. The slow passing of time showed itself by the rising and falling of the sun, the changing of the seasons, and children growing up and then growing old and replacing themselves with a new generation of children to grow up and grow old in Rusty Nail. (3)
Frances “Franny” Hansen is a ten year old with big dreams. Like her father before her, she dreams of one day making it big in the music world and leaving this town far behind her. Her father had his chance--an encounter with Duke Ellington--but turned down his chance to go on the road because he was in love and engaged. But Franny is not going to miss her opportunity to shine. Her talent? Playing the piano. It is her talent, her passion, her joy. Even if the other kids don’t quite understand how practicing that many hours a week could ever be fun.
Sometimes these opportunities to shine come in ways no one expects. When a Russian woman moves to Rusty Nail, everyone thinks she must be a spy. After all, aren’t all Russians communists? And aren’t all communists in America spies? So while most of the town gives the new woman a cold shoulder, Frances is strangely drawn to her. She is a strange woman, it is true. But she has the most magnificent musical instruments. And Frances has heard this woman play the piano beautifully.
Could this woman be her opportunity? Can Franny convince this strange Madame Malenkov to become her teacher? Or is Franny only asking for trouble and heartache? Will she get her big chance to shine? Or will that bratty-face Nancy Orilee rob her of her destiny?
I really enjoyed certain aspects of The Rising Star of Rusty Nail. It wasn't a perfect book for me. There were lots of little things that I could have done without. But I did enjoy it.
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