Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Willoughbys


Lowry, Lois. 2008. The Willoughbys.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this one. Would I love it? Would I like it? Would I "get" it? You see The Willoughbys is an old-fashioned story. It's very tongue-in-cheek. It's very funny. Very enjoyable. But it's just strange enough that it has the potential to either really charm you or really irritate you. So which would it do to me? That was the question. I knew some bloggers appreciated it. But I know that sometimes I can't help being contrary. Well, I'm glad to say that I did really enjoy this one. I don't know that it was L-O-V-E, sing a song, do a little happy dance good. But I really really enjoyed it. I did love it. (I just don't know if it will be one that will go on my love, love, love list.) It's Lois Lowry. Expectations are naturally high. But this one is unlike what Lowry I've read. It's not The Giver. It's not Number the Stars. It isn't Gossamer. It isn't Messenger. Or Gathering Blue. It's very unique. You'll just have to give it a try yourself because there is no way I can do it justice. Not really.

Once upon a time there was a family named Willoughby: an old-fashioned type of family, with four children. The eldest was a boy named Timothy; he was twelve. Barnaby and Barnaby were ten-year-old twins. No one could tell them apart, and it was even more confusing because they had the same name; so they were known as Barnaby A and Barnaby B. Most people, including their parents, shortened this to A and B, and many were unaware that the twins even had names. There was also a girl, a timid, pretty little thing with eyeglasses and bangs. She was the youngest, just six and a half, and her name was Jane. They lived in a tall, thin house in an ordinary city and they did the kinds of things that children in old-fashioned stories do. They went to school and to the seashore. They had birthday parties. Occasionally they were taken to the circus or the zoo, although they did not care much for either, excepting the elephants. Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. once she read a book but she found it distasteful because it contained adjectives. Occasionally she glanced at a magazine. (11-12)
Quote is taken from an ARC, so it might not be true to the book in its published form.

Definitely recommended!!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

6 comments:

Carrie 1:16 PM  

This looks like total fun! I'd love to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for your review! I'm definitely going to check it out.

John's comments 2:47 PM  

Hi, I have tagged you for a meme about your favourite authors. Link to my post if you want to know what to do and what the rules are. If you do then post a comment back on mine. If you don't want to then no problem.

Sandy D. 7:01 PM  

The bibliography and the glossary pushed it from "fun" in my rating, to "so much so I'll recommend it to my fellow child lit lovers".

Melissa 9:26 AM  

I have been looking for another good YA book. The one I have just finished and love, One Foot in the Black, and the Willoughbys seem to have the whole dysfunctional family theme in common. You should give it a try. A bit of adventure, a bit of family craziness, always makes for an entertaining read.

Jennie 11:43 AM  

I didn't like it. The tongue-in-cheekness wasn't subtle enough. Every page screamed I'M A SPOOF! Almost literally. And it was unnecessary. If Lowry could have gone 2 paragraphs without overtly reminding me that this was consciously an "old fashioned story" I might have liked it more. But, she couldn't contain herself so overall, I was less than lukewarm.

Becky 12:35 PM  

Jennie, thanks for voicing your opinion :) I knew that this was one of the types of books that people would either really love or really hate. And it's always good to hear from the other side.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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