Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Mighty Miss Malone (MG)

The Mighty Miss Malone. Christopher Paul Curtis. 2012. January 2012. Random House. 320 pages.

"Once upon a time...."
If I could get away with it, that's how I'd begin every essay I write.
Those are the four best words to use when you start telling about yourself because anything that begins that way always, always finishes with another four words, "...they lived happily everafter." 
And that's a good ending for any story.

The Mighty Miss Malone is in a way a companion novel to Bud, Not Buddy. It is set during the same time period, the late 1930s, during the Great Depression. Deza Malone does get a brief mention in Bud, Not Buddy--she's the young girl that gives Bud his first kiss. But. For the most part, The Mighty Miss Malone does stand alone.

The first chapter introduces readers to the Malone family. Deza takes great care in showcasing her family's strengths. She praises her brother's singing voice, noting how his singing wows just about everyone. And how his gift makes up for some of his faults. She also praises her mom--who works as a maid--and her father. The chapter also shows readers just how well Deza thinks of herself. She WANTS to be a writer so badly, she tries SO HARD to better herself, to learn as much as she can, but sometimes she tries a little too hard. Sometimes she just needs to be herself. As her teacher--who is retiring--tells her. She thinks Deza has great potential. That she could really do so much if she holds onto her dream. But she doesn't lie to Deza either, there will be tough times ahead.

As I mentioned, this novel is set during the Depression. And readers follow Deza on a tough, tough journey. The difficulties begin when her father and his friends go missing from their fishing trip. Days pass. No word. Bodies are found--but not his. And then--a miracle--of sorts. He's returned to them. Broken, bruised, changed in oh-so-many-ways, but alive. But his road to recovery won't be an easy one. And it may separate him--physically and emotionally--from those he loves best...

The Mighty Miss Malone is a bittersweet novel. It's a hope-filled novel, in my opinion. BUT. It is a novel that makes your heart ache. It just does. Some of the things that happen to the Malone family, well, they're crushing. But the Malones are resilient. And love and kisses and hope do seem to make a difference. I think the novel is very realistic and very well-written.

I would definitely recommend this one.

Read The Mighty Miss Malone
  • If you're a fan of Christopher Paul Curtis (he's written some GREAT books including Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963)
  • If you're a fan of historical fiction
  • If you want to read about the Depression (Bud, Not Buddy and The Mighty Miss Malone are much more reader-friendly than some other titles I could name)
  • If you are interested in seeing poverty realistically portrayed (this novel felt very authentic)

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Kailana said...

I have seen this a couple places and they all seem to be positive reviews. Will have to look into it myself.