A Corner of the Universe
Ann M. Martin
2002 – KidLit – Realistic Fiction
2003 Newbery Honor Book
The Story:11-year-old Hattie is looking forward to a perfect summer. Trips to the library, painting with her dad, and maybe even a trip to the carnival. But when her uncle Adam, 21 years old and suffering from an unknown mental illness, returns home from the special school where he has spent his life, Hattie’s life is turned upside-down.
The Opening Line:Last summer, the summer I turned twelve, was the summer Adam came.
What I Loved:I really like atmospheric settings. Decrepit haunted houses, creepy graveyards, a boarding school plagued by scandal. They get me every time! Well, this book has a great setting. A picturesque small town visited by a carnival in the heat of summer. The sights, sounds, and smells just seeped through the pages and surrounded me, drawing me in and plunking me down in Hattie’s 1960. I also really liked Adam’s humanity – mental illness all too often has a stigma attached to it, but Martin confronts the stigma straight on.
What I Didn’t Love: After Hattie becomes friends with Leila, whose family owns the carnival, their friendship develops beautifully. But then Leila suddenly moves on with the carnival. Hattie sends her a letter, but we are never told that she receives it or that the friendship lives on. I just want closure, Ann Martin, is that too much to ask? 🙂
Final Thoughts:It took a couple chapters to get into the story, but it was worth it to keep reading. I didn’t really know what to expect because I associate Ann Martin so completely with the Babysitter’s Club series – this was a completely different experience. It was a thought-provoking book, really important stuff to say about mental illness and those affected by it. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Plus, I get to mark it off two of my reading lists. That’s an accomplishment!