Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli


Spinelli, Jerry. 2007. Eggs.

I read this book about six or seven days ago. I am still not quite sure what I think about it if I'm being honest. There were parts I liked. There were some parts I questioned. And I'm undecided as to how much I liked it. I know I didn't hate it. David is a young boy--9 or 10--who is grieving the loss of his parents. His mom is actually dead. His dad, well, he is just missing in action since his wife's death. He has become consumed with work and hiding himself and burying his own feelings. And so he's become neglectful and thoughtless. I don't know how much of this was done intentionally on his part. I don't think he sat down and said, "hmmm, I think I'll withdraw from my boy's life completely because I don't want to be bothered with having to watch him cry and ask questions about his mother." But David is in the care of his grandmother. The grandmother is in a difficult position. She loves her grandson. Loves him. But he doesn't love her. He doesn't care about her. He is angry. He is bitter. He is upset. He is withdrawn. He won't talk to her. He won't hug her. He won't show any affection whatsoever. Which I suppose is very explainable--like father like son. But it is hard for the grandmother to watch her grandson be in pain but not be able to reach him and connect with him emotionally. She's willing, but he is not.

The book begins with an Easter egg hunt. David, as you can imagine, is not a happy guy. He doesn't want to be hunting easter eggs. He feels its a little too demeaning. Isn't he old enough not to participate? And not only that it was around this time last year that his mother died. So there aren't really any happy memories going on when the book opens. Yet hunting eggs is what David must do. And in doing so he makes a very very unusual friend, Primrose. She isn't one of the kids hunting eggs. No, that would be usual. No, she is underneath a pile of brown leaves with an Easter egg on top of her face. At first, David thinks she's a dead body. Which is precisely the effect Primrose was going for. She was 'playing dead.' It's not until days--maybe a week or two--later that he sees this 'dead girl' at the local library.

And thus a very unusual friendship comes to be. Primrose is older than David. I believe she's 13. But being older doesn't necessarily make her wiser. And Primrose's life is far from perfect. Like David, she is a broken soul. She's never known her father. Her mother is eccentric at best. (Her mother is a psychic.) And when David meets her, she is by choice living in a van without wheels in her front yard. She's tired of sharing the teeny tiny house with a crazy lady.

Two kids, both with problems of their owns, become friends and have adventures. But sometimes the adventures go a bit too far in my opinion. For one thing,

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

both kids are in the habit of sneaking out of the house after dark night after night after night. And it seems that the adults involved either aren't aware or don't care. In the case of the grandmother, I think it is a fact of not knowing. But these kids aren't completely nonsupervised. They sometimes visit during the night an eccentric adult they call Refrigerator John. He is a friendly adult who likes children better than other adults. He lives by himself. And he doesn't think it's *odd* that two children come by his place alone without permission several nights a week. He gives them a place to talk, a place to watch tv, and sometimes an outdoor adventure to go on. For example, he encourages them--actively encourages them--to go on flashlight adventures and gather pieces of junk from the trashcans on their neighbors' curbs. He then fixes and cleans and sells the 'junk' as treasure. These adventures are done by themselves. So they're unsupervised kids wandering the streets at night with a flashlight. Anyway, he also for a bit encourages them to go hunting for worms. While all of this is strange, the fact that he is more interested in being friends with these kids instead of letting the parents and guardians know what their children are up to while they're asleep is a bit questionable in my opinion. While a 13 year old has no business out at night without her parent's consent, a 9 year old definitely doesn't. It just screams out that it's wrong, wrong, wrong. So I don't think these nightime adventures are harmless fun expressions of friendship. I think they're trouble waiting to happen.

Anyway, I won't tell you how the book ends. There is some resolution. And I do feel like the kids are in a better place at the end. That they're brokenness is on the way to being mended. But it's a long journey to get there.

Washington Post's Review of Eggs
Kidsreads.com's review of Eggs
Propernoun's review of Eggs

4 comments:

Beckyb 6:45 PM  

This is on my tbr pile - but now I'm wondering, hmmmm.... maybe I won't read that one! I'm usually a fan of his - will think on this one!

Becky 7:45 PM  

Becky, this book has been getting great reviews elsewhere. And it seems that I'm the only one that it is remotely bothered that these two kids--one a 9 year old--roam the streets at night unsupervised. So I don't want to persuade you not to read it :) And the writing is good. The style, I mean. So you will probably enjoy it if you like Spinelli. (This is only my second Spinelli novel. But I loved Milkweed.)

fusenumber8 10:00 AM  

I saw it as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" for kids. A weird mix, but it definitely had some pep to it. Plus it'll make for a magnificent booktalk. The whole "dead girl in the storytime" aspect is sublime.

That said, it is indeed weeeeeeird.

nicole vafiadis,  8:10 PM  

can you do a book reveiw for smile by jerry spinelli? i was thinking about renting it from the libray but i like and trust your book reveiws and want to hear your opinion before i rent it thanks. P.S. good reveiw for this book(:

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