I tend to be slightly skeptical of any book that proclaims itself: A powerful, poignant novel of family, friendship, and a summer that will change lives forever. However, The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring, author of Carry Me Home, was described quite accurately.
Kring, Sandra. 2006. The Book of Bright Ideas.
Set in a small community in Wisconsin, Eveyln "Button" Peters and her family (mother, father, aunt, uncle) expect this summer--the summer of 1961--to be quiet and quite ordinary. All that changes when the Malones come quite noisily into town to stay. Winnalee and her older sister Freeda are a bit wilder and more vivacious than their new neighbors. But Button knows this: Winnalee is her new best friend and her drab life will never be the same again.
Winnalee's relationship with Button is close. The two become almost like sisters, sharing intimate, private secrets with one another. One such secret is a book--a blank book--Winnalee keeps in which she writes her bright ideas. The goal, if she can write down 100 bright ideas she knows she'll be wise and never make the same mistake twice. These bright ideas are often quite observant about human nature--universal and specific.
Here are a few of their bright ideas:
And although this isn't the official #1 in Winnalee's book, this is what would be Bright Idea #1 in Button's own book.
Bright Idea #1: If you take an ugly girl and you dress her up in a pretty pink dress, lacy anklets, and plunk a homemade bow on her head, you're not going to get a pretty girl. All you're going to get is an ugly girl in a pretty dress, lacy anklets, with a bow plunked on her head.
Bright Idea #86: If you're scared of dead people, then you're probably scared of live people too. But you don't got to be scared of either.
Bright Idea #89: If you ever don't know which direction to go in, or you start moving in the right direction but then get lost along the way, don't get rattled and start moving fast, this way and that. Instead, stand still and be quiet. Then you'll be showed which way to go.
Bright Idea #90: After you play beauty shop, your husband might say you look like a beauty queen, or he might just ask you where the Phillips screwdriver is. Either way, it doesn't matter, as long as your new hair makes you think nice things about yourself.
The Book of Bright Ideas is about how much of an impact a person can have on those around her/him. One person can change a life. It is a novel about discovering yourself. Finding your authentic self. Becoming the person you want to be. Growing in confidence and self-esteem. It's a novel about opening up and becoming vulnerable. And a novel about letting go of the past and saying hello to the future.
Although our heroine "Button" is nine, the novel is written for an older audience.