Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Book of Bright Ideas - Sandra Kring

Summary: Wisconsin, 1961. Evelyn “Button” Peters is nine the summer Winnalee and her fiery-spirited older sister, Freeda, blow into her small town–and from the moment she sees them, Button knows this will be a summer unlike any other.

Much to her mother’s dismay, Button is fascinated by the Malone sisters, especially Winnalee, a feisty scrap of a thing who carries around a shiny silver urn containing her mother’s ashes and a tome she calls “The Book of Bright Ideas.” It is here, Winnalee tells Button, that she records everything she learns: her answers to the mysteries of life. But sometimes those mysteries conceal a truth better left buried. And when a devastating secret is suddenly revealed, dividing loyalties and uprooting lives, no one–from Winnalee and her sister to Button and her family–will ever be the same.

My Review: Evelynn Peters (better known as Button) is a fairly typical 9 year old girl, dealing with some image problems and longing for love from her parents. She is about to find how fast life can change when during the summer she meets Winnalee, another 9 year old who has just moved to town with her older sister. Winnalee is not your average 9 year old, as she carries around the urn containing her mother's ashes and also a book, in which she is writing all her bright ideas. These two girls become the best of friends as they spend their summer together, all the while adding to the bright idea book in hopes that they reach reach 100 ideas at which time they will "know everything there is about living good". Little do they know that they are also about to come across a few secrets that will change life as they know it.

Sandra Kring had written a novel full of three dimensional characters. While reading this you really feel that you get to know the people she has invented. However I feel that she may have gone over the top while creating Winnalee's sister, Freeda. I get that she is a tough girl with strong views but really does she need to use profanity in each sentence she speaks? I found this a bit distracting.

While I truly enjoyed the writing style, I felt that overall the story was poorly developed. I seemed to consistently be wondering if anything was going to happen in the story. It did but not until the last 50 or so pages of the novel. While the characters were three dimensional, the setting wasn't. The author seems to forget the town she has drawn up for her characters and that left me confused at times. The bright ideas that the girls wrote throughout the book provided some little nuggets of life wisdom from a child's prospective and thus were my favorite part of the novel.

In summary, this is a book that I may pass along but not one that I would ever wish to have returned. I do, however, plan on reading "Carry Me Home" by this author as I really did enjoy her writing style.

My Rating: 3 Stars

If I had to sum it up in one phrase it would be: A gourmet meal with stunning presentation yet rather bland in taste, leaving you unfulfilled.

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