Monday, August 15, 2005

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Beware: I'm on vacation, and little thinking is allowed on vacation. (Its place is taken by the eating of many delicious foods.)

Turner Buckminster just moved to Phippsburg, Maine, where his father has become the town minister. He's bummed because he always has to be a good boy, because he's the minister's son. Instead of making friends with the local boys, he befriends Lizzie Bright, a girl who lives on a nearby island inhabited by ex-slaves and their descendants. Soon the town leaders decide that they need to clear that island in order to build a hotel so Phippsburg can become part of the tourist trade that still flourishes in that area, and they order the people to leave. Turner must then fight the town leaders to let his friends stay.

I love that this book is historical fiction and it's good. There are too many stories like "Catch Me if You Can" that are true stories and because they stay too close to the truth, they can't possibly out-do what Hollywood can imagine, and so it becomes boring. This book, I suppose, is a happy medium. It's based on history, but it's really about the characters and their relationships, which of course are made up.

The other thing I liked about this book was that I was able to pick up on the important parts. No, that wasn't it. It was that each event had a purpose. There wasn't any filler. Because of that, it was obvious that Turner's encounter with the whale was supposed to mean something. And each character had a purpose. Even old what's her name who got sent away at the beginning.

Thing #3 that I liked: A bunch of people died in this book, but it wasn't really a sad book. Really, count the people. Five characters died in the making of this book. Yet it wasn't depressing nor mournful. The tone was celebratory and uplifting, if anything. Turner would run around with fire in his heart, skipping rocks and touching whales.

Finally, the use of Darwin was interesting. I'm not sure why the author chose that in particular, and exactly what function it served. Did the minister give it to Turner to demonstrate that there are people who go against the grain, slyly implying that Turner should do the same? Did the minister believe Darwin's theories despite his religion? Could the author be commenting on recent arguments over evolution vs creationism? As I've mentioned, I haven't been thinking much, so I'd appreciate some comments on this.

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