R My Name Is Rachel

Patricia Reilly Giff. Random/Lamb, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-375-83889-7
Giff's (Storyteller) plaintive yet heartening historical novel introduces a close-knit family devastated by the Depression. After losing his job in the city, Rachel's widower father moves his children to the country, where, to Rachel's sorrow, the school and library are closed for lack of funds ("I can't even cry. No library: the idea is too big for tears"). Meanwhile, Rachel's father finds work that keeps him away from home for months. Left in charge of her younger siblings—bossy, organized Cassie and reckless, optimistic Joey—12-year-old Rachel struggles to scrape together food and rent money, insisting that they will not ask for help: "I have to do this myself. No, not myself. Ourselves." The children transform their dilapidated farmhouse into a home, plant a garden, and turn for help to the bighearted woman who was Rachel's mentor in the city. Rachel's searing, present-tense narrative exposes her fears, determination, and hopefulness in the face of wrenching challenges. Recurring motifs—color, flowers, and drawings by a neighbor that Rachel discovers in unlikely places—add lyricism to this story of family solidarity. Ages 9–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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