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Monday, October 09, 2006

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck

Here Lies the Librarian
Here Lies the Librarian, by Richard Peck, is a warm, funny, and cozy slice-of-odd-life story of Peewee McGrath, a 14-year-old girl living in rural Indiana with her older brother, Jake, when America was still young and innocent. It is 1914, and the advent of motor cars has given rise to the sometimes painful modernization that comes with paved roads and looming world war. Author Peck takes what could have been just another "America's growing pains" story and imbues it with high hilarity and genuine folksiness, giving his tale a true "you were there" feeling.

Peewee, whose real name is the nearly too-polite "Eleanor," is the narrator in this coming-of-age story that ostensibly centers around the reopening of the town library, closed since its former librarian was found beneath the card catalog, dead as a doornail. It isn't just America that's growing up, but Peewee herself as she desperately resists her metamorphosis into the more proper Eleanor. Bringing her face-to-face with her own future are a team of young librarians--who show the girl and her handsome older brother that maturing doesn't have to mean giving up getting down and dirty with their beloved motorcars--who literally breeze into town one spring day. Though Peewee doesn't completely understand it, times are a-changing, and the motorcars that she thinks are just a way to keep her and her brother's heads above water are bringing the whole of the 20th century into their little backwater way of life. "It seemed to me," Peewee narrates, "that Jake's dreams were bigger than a garage by the side of the road. He was my brother. I could hear him dreaming."

Indeed dreams are being dreamed--and coming true. The four young women who come into town and put the library back on the map turn everything upside down--including Jake's dreams, which bloom like a fairy tale into something much more than either of the McGraths ever imaged was possible. One of the women is an heiress to the Stutz automobile fortune, and her plans include more than just reinvigorating the local book lender's fortunes.

This was a story of surprising poignancy, highlighted by moments of hilarity, adventure, and even a touch of danger, as Peewee and Jake face off against the low-down Kirbys, who think that success in life should be theirs alone. Take a ride back in time, then, and enjoy Richard Peck's tribute to librarians.

perfectpat, did you know that daisymaisy liked this story, too? You can read her review here!
This story portrays how strong and determined a female really can be when needed. Gives an interesting look at public libraries of earlier times and the attitudes about these institutions in small towns. I really enjoyed this book.
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