For the final installment of Funemployment Summer Reading, I have selected one of my favorite childhood books that I haven’t touched since childhood.
Sharon Creech is basically Barbara Kingsolver for little girls. Something about her books always made fourth-grade-me feel like I was secretly much older and more mature.
However, upon second reading of Bloomability a decade and some years later, I’ve noticed that certain aspects of this were a bit over my head. For example, when the protagonist, Dinnie, describes her brother being peer-pressured into “smoking a joint” I’m pretty sure I thought that this referred to some kind of “light arson.” As a nine year old, I watched a lot of 1970’s television reruns, but apparently not the ones where joints were involved other than as a description for a hangout or hip spot. Like I found myself very cool and retro amongst my friends if I said something like “let’s blow this joint” as we left the cafeteria.
Additionally, I did not pick up on the creep factor of the protagonist’s older sister disappearing for a weekend and returning with a marriage certificate–as a sixteen year old. I’m pretty sure that, while this seemed totally rebellious and bad-ass to me, I thought that sixteen was an almost grown up age and that it was “close enough” to adulthood to get married. This of course was largely due to the fact that I was an age-appropriate idiot and I read a great deal of historical novels in which 16 year old girls DID get married because it was the 19th century and they were on the Oregon Trail. (P.S. She not only has a marriage certificate but is also carrying the fetus of a deployed marine?? Ick! But then again age-appropriate idiot child me probably thought this was romantic.)
Realizing (for more reasons than the ones I’ve so deftly recapped above) that their home life is definitely unstable, Dinnie’s mother send her away to live with her aunt and uncle at a boarding school in Switzerland. I guess I didn’t realize fully at the time OR that I’m just reading this book differently as an adult than I did as a child, but this is a pretty heavy book. Maybe it’s all the unemployment or floating sense of permanency that I’ve been dealing with lately, but I found that I could easily relate to all of Dinnie’s anxiety about uncertainty and fears of being trapped. This seems like one of Madeleine L’Engle’s moves where she’s all like “surprise adults! I felt like kids would be more receptive to this than you but it’s really about you too…”