I read Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt during the last readathon. I always look for the shorter, easier reads to keep me motivated. This was such a fabulous choice! It was a well deserved Newbury winner in 1967, and I will definitely be recommending it to all the juvenile/children’s book lovers I know. It is awesome how much relevance it still holds for today’s readers.
At the beginning of Up a Road Slowly, Julie’s mother dies. It is decided that she will go live with her Aunt Cordelia, a spinster schoolteacher that lives out in the boonies. This section reminded me a lot of something L.M. Montgomery would write (think Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon). Julie had to get used to living in a different place and starting at a different school – you know the drill. Also, speaking of Anne Shirley, Julie totally punched a guy when he tried to kiss her! YOU GO GIRL.
There is so much young girl angst and melodrama as Up a Road Slowly progresses – Julie is pretty self-centered as all girls are, and makes some majorly bone-headed moves. Irene Hunt definitely nailed the realistic coming of age portrayal. The story starts when she is 7 and ends when she is 18 – so there definitely is a lot of character growth and development packed into the story.
The family dynamics that are explored were also great – from the evolution of Julie’s relationship with her aunt to the way she interacts with her father and deals with him remarrying. There is also (very light) romance. From the losers she winds up dating to the DUH IT WAS ALWAYS YOU guy that was waiting for her all along. Sigh, it reminded me very much of the love of my life. (Gilbert Blythe is his name, perhaps you’ve heard of him?)
Also, I was extremely impressed with the ending. It wasn’t some saccharine HEA moonbeams and flowers deal – it was actually fairly open ended. Sometimes that bothers me, but in this case? I was thrilled.
One last thing – this quote you guys. WOW:
“In another minute, though, I had forgotten everything about me as Mrs. Eltwing poised her hands above the keys and then struck them as if in a wild fury. Waves of music crashed throughout the rooms of the old house, mountains began to shake and comets to fall under her hands while I could imagine tidal waves rolling in and the wind uprooting trees and sending ships spinning to the bottom of the sea. Then as my heart seemed almost ready to burst with the tumult, her music suddenly subsided and the sky became bright; the storm was over. The melody had become quiet, but it was not happy; it seemed to cry as if some lonely soul walked over the earth and mourned the ravages that Nature had committed.”
To Sum It Up:
- Julie, the MC, constantly reminded me of some of my favorite L.M. Montgomery reads – definitely great for Anne and Emily fans!
- An actual family you guys – in YA! From an awesome aunt to an undemonstrative but caring father, I was very happy with their major presence in the story.
- A super cute love story extremely reminiscent of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe? YES. ALWAYS YES.