Kelly, Jacqueline. 2009. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Henry Holt.
By 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat.
That is a great first line. I just loved it. While I didn't love the whole novel quite as evenly, I did enjoy it--really enjoy it! It's historical fiction. (A genre I tend to love.) It's set at the turn of the twentieth century. It stars a great little heroine, a twelve-year-old (I think), named Calpurnia Virginia Tate. She's not interested in sewing, stitching, or cooking. No, this little Texas miss is all about science, nature. She's detail-oriented and she loves spending time with her grandfather who is a naturalist/scientist.
What did I love about this one? Was it the fact that it's a novel all about a girl growing close to her grandfather? A novel about how special of a relationship that can be? (Also the fact that the book wasn't about him (the grandfather) getting sick or dying.) Yes, I loved all of that. Was it then the fact that it was about a strong-minded, strong-willed girl who knew she wanted more out of life than being stuck in the kitchen, in the house? A girl with spirit and life and intelligence? Yes, I loved all that too. But I think more than anything, I loved the writing, the style of this one. Jacqueline Kelly knows how to tell a good story. The storytelling just kept me hooked, kept me reading. I just loved the way she put things. It just felt oh-so-right.
Here's just one example:
You would think that having Lula as a friend would be a great relief to me after all my brothers, and generally this was so, but sometimes she could be a bit sappy. She wouldn't collect specimens with me at the dam (snakes). She wouldn't walk with me to the Old Confederate Training Ground (blisters and snakes). She wouldn't go swimming in the river (undressing and snakes). But we shared a desk at school, and we always had. This is how our friendship had started and why in part, I guess, it persevered. (132 in the ARC)I'd definitely recommend this one!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews