Monday, April 27, 2009

Books: A Certain Strain of Peculiar

Gigi Amateau's A Certain Strain of Peculiar is the story of Mary Harold, a thirteen year old girl who has decided to take charge of her life. Having become the outcast at her school in Virginia, she decides to drive herself to her grandmother's in Wren, Alabama.
Once there, she begins learning to help with her grandmother's cattle,along side farm manager and next door neighbor. Mary Harold also befriends Dixie, Bud's daughter who believes she is a horse. And Mary Harold learns that things are hard for everyone, but that learning to be strong and having the support of friends and family can help.
Due to a package mishap, I received this book on Friday, and despite a busy weekend, I still had it finished by Sunday. It's not an easy read, it's a little like broccoli with hollandaise sauce, you know it's good for you and it's pretty, so you eat it and then discover it tastes pretty great too.
The title comes from Mary asking her grandmother why Bud's kids, Dixie and Delta, are the way they are, and getting the answer that there's a certain strain of peculiar in that family.
As a quick note, Mary and many of the characters within this book are Christian. While I don't recall any specific mention of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is called on several times.
Mary Harold is thirteen, which means there are parts of the story where she seems wiser than her years and parts where she seems much younger. I think the story has appeal for children*, teens and adults and would be a great fit for fans of Joshilyn Jackson's work.

*Officially the book is listed as middle grade fiction, appropriate for grade 7 and up.

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