Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Calpurnia is a precocious eleven year old on the verge of seeing America come into a new century. As she watches the country grow and develop intellectually, she must try and balance this with the expectation that she will grow up to be a wife and mother. Under the tutelage of her eccentric grandfather, Calpurnia discovers that what she is seeking in life might be beyond what her family and town can give her.

This book was lovely. Sweet, slow, and humorous, each chapter was a rather delightfully packaged little vignette that made you care for the entire family more and more. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from Origin of the Species, and it helps keep the theme of evolution very prevalent throughout the book even when the chapter might not have anything to do with the science experiments that Calpurnia and her Grandaddy perform.

This was a very character driven book, which partially makes it such a wonderful book. There are so few books for this age group that are character drive and well done. Jacqueline Kelly manages to do it though. Calpurnia makes you hope and dream with her, you want her to grow up and be able to do anything that she wants to do, and yet you know there's a good chance that she won't be able to. Jacqueline Kelly does an incredible job of creating a juxtaposition between our expectations as modern readers and the realist of Calpurnia's situation. Though-provoking.

I do have one little criticism. It's not huge, but I found some of the side-stories to detract from the main story-line. For example Calpurnia's eldest brother Harry has a fling with a young woman and I thought it dragged the story down a bit. It adds nicely to the whole well-rounded character and developing relationships between the family, but slowed things down in an already slow book. I get why it's there, I just didn't really want it there.

OK, enough about the book. I want to give a shout out to the reader Natalie Ross. She was BANANAS good. She encapsulated each character perfectly in the voices she gave them. It was incredible. When you listen to a book you want it to be this kind of experience. Awesome.

So go forth. Listen to this book. You'll enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Love the cover of this one! It sounds really interesting. I might check it out sot see what I think of it for myself. :) Wonderful review!

    My latest post: From the Review Pile (1)


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