rating: 3 of 5 stars
Another of the possible Newbery winners... This one is sort of Southern Gothic-lite. The setting is Depression-era Louisiana, and our heroine is another preternaturally adult child (12). Her mother seems to be one of those girl/women who never should have had children, and her father just goes along with Mom. When Mom leaves, Dad takes Tennyson and her sister to his family's old, decaying mansion - once one of five plantations the family owned, pre-Civil War.
While there, Tennyson starts dreaming about the War and what went on in the family then (honestly, it reminded me a little too much of the Green Knowe series in that regard). As a way to find her mother, she sends a story about this time to The Sophisticate magazine. Long story short, the effete editor loves the story, publishes it, it's a hit and he's sent to find the author and get him(!) to publish the rest in book form.
Of course, in Southern Gothic, nothing goes quite right. By the end of the book, her mother has written one of the most selfish "Dear John" letters to her daughter, her relatives feel she's betrayed them by writing about the Sacred Family History, and she's gone from being an "old child" to just being "old" (while still being 12).
Do I believe this character? No. The setting and atmosphere really worked for me but the characters just felt like caricatures. I also felt the ending was rushed, with almost an "oh, dear, how can I end this?" quality to it.
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