Thursday, March 06, 2014

Afternoon of the Elves (1989)

Afternoon of the Elves. Janet Taylor Lisle. 1989. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed reading Afternoon of the Elves. At its heart, the novel is simply about an unlikely friendship, and how that friendship impacts the two girls. Sara-Kate is the oldest of the girls. She does not have any friends at school. She is not exactly invisible, but, her real self is not seen by anyone. If Sara-Kate were successfully invisible at school, perhaps the girls would not go to so much trouble to talk about her all the time, to tell of scandalous doings, to share every rumor, perhaps to invent every rumor. They are noticing Sara-Kate for all the wrong reasons: she doesn't look like me, she doesn't dress like me, she doesn't act like me, she doesn't talk like me. Hillary, the youngest girl, is Sara-Kate's neighbor. Sara-Kate has NEVER to anyone's knowledge invited another girl to play with her. But she does invite Hillary into her backyard. She shows her an elf-village. Hillary isn't exactly sure that elves are real, that they do in fact live in a village in her neighbor's backyard. But the "proof" of such a village does exist. And together these two girls meet almost daily through the fall. They keep it to the yard. They keep the subjects limited. No probing questions on subjects Sara-Kate would rather avoid. But. Hillary, eventually, comes to realize that some of the rumors she thought were mere lies had some basis in truth.

The book is interesting. Sara-Kate is mysterious: veiling her darkest truths but at the same time showing glimpses here and there that do hint at her desperate need to be seen and loved and helped. Hillary is observant enough to know that Sara-Kate likes to have control, that she hates to be vulnerable. She comes to think of her friend as an elf, having all the elf qualities that she learns about from Sara-Kate. Hillary does make decisions. She decides to NOT listen to her friends. She chooses to befriend Sara-Kate even though no one else likes her. She does decide to go over to her friend's house every day despite the fact that her mother does not approve. She decides that her mother just doesn't know Sara-Kate, and that her mother is wrong to think the worst of Sara-Kate and her mother. She decides to steal money from her mother's purse to help Sara-Kate when she realizes that her friend has no food in the house. Hillary never has to make the hardest decision. She never has to make the ultimate choice of keeping her friend's secret no matter what, or, telling her mom. I'm not sure what Hillary would have decided.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I read this when I was younger and still have my old copy kicking around somewhere. :)

Suko said...

Stories about unlikely friendships are often quite touching. Thanks for a great review, Becky.