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THE CANNING SEASON By Polly Horvath July 14, 2011

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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First, let me say that I found this Middle Grade/YA book to be an absolute delight. But I’m an adult — and one who wades through even the slowest literary fiction happily. So while I was pleased with young, neglected Ratchet going off to her aunts’ eccentric home in the woods of Maine, and while I enjoyed the old women’s stories of their youth, I can’t figure out exactly which kids the publisher expects to like this book. There are things the old girls say that are quite deep and can be enjoyed by those old enough to realize the wisdom in their statements, but it’s hard to believe teens would do anything in response to them beyond rolling their eyes. There are many references that something about Ratchet is different because she has “that thing” on her shoulder blades. That part of the story deeply disappointed this reader when she had it removed and that was that because it was obviously just a slightly abnormal growth, and not something, as expected, that made her quite special. The rest of the book inches out from one aunt’s story to the next, and while the characters see bears and the aunts recall people being eaten by them, the animals are merely a threat in the background of the plot.

Yes, there are silly and almost scary parts to the book, but it winds around and finally up in a really predictable fashion. The Lycan Librarian would recommend this to an adult reader seeking a light summer read, but she honestly can’t imagine pressing into the hands of anyone in the age group for whom this book was supposedly written. The Amazon reviews of this book are rather amusing because a number of readers were appalled that the F word was used. But this reader/librarian must agree that it was not necessary, and some other colorful language went beyond where one might expect it to climb for this age group. It’s getting more and more difficult to figure out the wide, weird world of publishing.

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