Saturday, April 11, 2015
Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt
The book follows Julie, our protagonist, from the age of seven through her high school graduation. Julie has two older siblings: Christopher, who is three years older, and Laura, who is older by about six or seven years. As the book opens, their mother has just died from an unspecified illness (although the death isn't stated explicitly, which made circumstances confusing to me for a while), and Julie is recovering from this illness herself. Unable to cope and run the household single-handedly, their father sends Julie and Chris to live in the country with their unmarried aunt Cordelia (this book feels so dated that I almost referred to her as "maiden aunt" because the term makes sense in the context of the book). Because Laura will be graduating from high school before too long, and she is assumed to be less adaptable due to her age, she remains in town with their father. Only five miles or so away, this distance appears a very significant one to travel.
Julie feels the break in her family very acutely. Although Chris is a close playmate, Laura has served as a second mother to Julie, so she naturally feels abandoned at the loss of affection. Aunt Cordelia is difficult to get to know. Although not unkind, she is firm and strict. Cordelia also teaches the regional school single-handedly. Julie makes a few friends locally, as well as the acquaintance of her spoiled uncle Haskell (supposedly an author, although he's more often found drinking than typing).
The reader is able to follow Julie as she matures into a young lady as she deals with numerous losses, disappointments, and periods of confusion in her life. Many of the experiences are universal, but Julie's advantage is that she is under the mentorship of numerous understanding adults who deal with her patiently, compassionately, and honestly. I don't know who, exactly, I'd recommend this book to- I'd really have to see what else they were reading, but most likely some one who likes realistic fiction and doesn't mind historical fiction, either (there's nothing distinctly historical here, but the lack of more modern conveniences is noteworthy). It doesn't have a lot of action or earth-shattering consequences, as most current novels seem to, but it nonetheless holds interest well.