by: Cynthia Ryland
Published by: Harcourt Trade Publishers
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Reviewed by Connie Anderson
Life poems--this is a powerful narrative that takes Ludie from little girl to old lady. This book is not a poem as most know poems, but a novel written in short spurts of maybe 2 or 5 or 8 words.
Growing up poor--hungry in her stepmother's uncaring life--Ludie learns to take care of herself at a young age, marrying very young because she needed a way out. She and Rupe raised six children, and were separated only when he died from the affects of mining in his late 70s.
Ludie didn't fear much--except loneliness--and knew in her 90s she could soon join her sister, granddaughter and Rupe--and would be lonely no more.
As I read, I noted so many lines worth rereading--or worth thinking about again and again, like ...
-- Ludie did not doubt that she was worthy of life, God's child, and necessary.
-- What happens when someone who is old and still sees out of the same eyes?
-- (A switch) ... was only a twig from a tree, after all. It wasn't personal, it wasn't vicious, the way words can be. ... she never tore her children down that way.
-- Ludie had made soldiers and teachers and nurses for the world (her children).
-- Ludie had seen too much of life to waste any time telling others how to live.
That final quote is my most favorite--I think.
Having never read anything by this Newbery Medalists author, I will now. This is not a book I would have selected--but now that I have been so moved by the messages in it, I am telling everyone about it.
Her storytelling is first rate, her imagery powerful, her pictures of people we know or wish we did--all add up to Ludie's Life.
Cynthia Ryland has written more than 100 books, including the poetry collection Boris; the Newbery-winning novel Missing May; and Appalachia: The voices of Sleeping Birds, which received the Boston Glob-Horn Book Award. Rylant lives in Portland, Oregon, but returned to her home state of West Virginia for this story.
Armchair Interviews says: Powerful read that will haunt you with its message of love, hope, birth, death--and all of life that lies in between.
From our armchair to yours...