Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh grow up already!

I'll give you a warning up front: The facade of pleasantness that I maintain is just that -- a facade. I will not be able to contain myself on this particular audiobook. This is dreck, pure and simple. An author of Christian fiction for adults named Wanda E. Brunstetter also writes a series of books about (for?) Amish children ("Accurately portraying the Amish way of life.") featuring a girl named Rachel Yoder. Evidently, Rachel is Always [making] Trouble Somewhere. In Book 8, Growing Up, we experience a series of episodes in Rachel's life -- in each chapter she forgets her chores, gets distracted, messes something up, etc. and has to be told by her grandfather, father, mother, teacher, or two older brothers that she can't seem to grow up.

So, kind of like Ramona Quimby, right? But for poor Rachel, it is always about what she's doing wrong. There is none of Ramona's joie de vivre. It's just Rachel making mistakes and wait for it ... learning her lesson. Over and over again. Now granted, I am an adult listener (and an adult listener with little interest in Christian fiction), but I think any 8-year-old will have no problem figuring out what is going to happen about a page into each chapter. As for the accurate portrayal of Amish life, I can't say; but I have difficulty believing that Amish people are as lifeless and one-dimensional as the Yoders.

I'm waiting for the story of Rachel's time in the "English" world, her Rumspringa. Now that might be interesting!

The narrator, Ellen Grafton, has little to work with, but she doesn't do much with what she has. She seems determined to read with the same sense of artificial cheerfulness that the author has used. So, not only does each chapter have the same, predictable story arc, but each chapter is read in exactly the same way. Where she does have the opportunity to liven things up -- some animal sounds, a baby, a semi-thrilling buggy ride -- she just plugs along. Maybe she is just determined to see things through.

I checked the World Cat holdings for this title, and 102 libraries own it. But the summary I found says it all: "Rachel is not enjoying the school year and shirks many of her responsibilities. She wants to be all grown up but will she ever learn the value of growing up into a dependable adult?" I'm not sure I would want any children I know reading a book that's all about becoming a dependable adult.

I did learn that the Amish have answering machines ... in the phone shed. Well, I never.

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