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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

YA Review: The Family Greene

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi

Published: May 24th, 2010 for the hardcover, November 15th, 2011 for the paperback.
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 250, including the Author Note and Bibliography
Part of a series? I don't think so, no.
Amazon link.

Summary (from the back of the book but here's a goodreads link for you): Cornelia, daughter of General Nathanael Greene, is fed up with the gossip about her mother, Caty Littlefield Greene, whose husband was second in command to George Washington during the American Revolution, was known for lifting the spirits of the troops at Valley Forge when she was a beautiful young bride. But her daughter Cornelia knows that rumors of Caty's past indiscretions are hurtful to her adored and loving father, and she confronts her mother with her accusations. Caty claims that she's just a flirt, and that flirting is a female necessity - a woman's only means of power.

Yet Cornelia's concern with her mother's reputation fades to the background when her jealous older sister tells her that Nathanael Greene is not actually her father. As Cornelia searches for the truth, her unexpected discoveries lead her to a new understanding of all the messy, hurtful, embarrassing, and wonderful things that family entails - and the ever-increasing power of love.

Review: I'm going to start to by saying I did not like this book. If that's not your thing, that's fair enough. This also might get a bit spoiler-y. If that bothers you, that's also fair. If you want to, you can totally skip this review. I honestly don't mind at all. Go ahead if either of those bother you.


*whispers* Are they gone?

Okay, to start with, you guys read the blurb/summary, right? Who would you think would be the main character of the book? Cornelia, right?


The book opened with a 3-page third person prologue about Caty at 10 years old. Okay. I wasn't too put out by that. It was a prologue, right? So I kept reading because, hey, prologue, no big deal.

Chapter One was first person told from... Caty's POV. At 10 years old. The first chapter was literally the same day as the prologue. Why did there need to be a POV shift? Why? I just really did not understand that at all.

In the first 50 pages, 8 years passed. Over those 8 years, Caty got sent away to live with her aunt and uncle, was courted at age 10 by a 22 year old man (I realize these were real people and it really happened, but, still, ew), got married at 18, got pregnant, and followed her husband to live with him at his military camp.

Then we got to Part 2 at page 83. Part 2 (and the rest of the book) is told in first person by Caty's daughter, Cornelia. The back blurb becomes relevant at page 125.

Confused yet?

Yeah, me too. Let's move on, shall we?

Plot: I don't even know. After a bit, I got so confused. Honestly, stuff just happened and I was so confused. So, so confused. My head hurts just thinking about it.

Characters: I was not fond of many of these characters. So this is going to be a bit long.

Caty annoyed me, both as a child and as an adult. When she was ten, she did not sound like a 10 year old. Honestly, she sounded like a 16 year old and I kept checking to see if she had suddenly aged, but, no. She was 10 for 40 pages, then 18 by page 50, and her voice NEVER changed. She hit about 19 or 20 before the POV change and nothing changed in her voice after all.

Here's an example:
We walked up the cliff. I hugged the cat and the spyglass and Sarah held fast to a birdcage she had found. But there was no bird in it.

It's like we're all walking around with empty birdcages, I thought, looking for the bird we want to put in them. Some get the bird. Some never do.
What 10 year old talks like that??? And what does that even mean?

Frankly, Caty annoyed me. She was overdramatic in a way that would have been appropriate for a 10 year old if she had sounded like a 10 year old. But she sounded like a 16 year old and it drove me nuts. And she was overdramatic about the weirdest, dumbest things. The discovery of her married aunt being in love and possibly having an affair with Benjamin Franklin was apparently Kosher with Caty, but try to get her to learn to spell and it was the end of the world.

*sigh* She just annoyed me so much. Even when it switched to Cornelia's POV, she annoyed me.

Also, as for Nathanael... what 22 year old "courts" a 10 year old? I get that it was 1764, but still. It's icky, right? Right?

Moving on now. In the beginning of Cornelia's POV, Caty is 7 months pregnant with her 6th child. They have an 11 year old, a 9 year old, an 8 year old (Cornelia), a 7 year old, and a 2 year old. Caty chases Cornelia, falls and goes into early labor. The baby is born too early and dies. Which is horrible, obviously, but Cornelia's older sister Martha makes Cornelia believe that it's her fault because Cornelia had skipped school and that was why Cady was chasing Cornelia. And apparently that makes it the 8 year old's fault.

And why was Cornelia running, do we think? Well, maybe it had something to do with this:

"And afterward, Mama, who was so quick to slap, or pick up a switch and spank, did nothing."

This is taken from later in the book, but, still.

I could go on, but I'm going to let it go now or we're be here all day.

PG-13 stuff: Not a lot of graphic stuff or language, but there were so many affairs that I lost track of who was boiinking who. But nothing more than kissing ever happened on page.

Cover comments: It's a very pretty cover. It's what attracted me too the book in the first place. (I'm a bit shallow like that.) I wonder how historically accurate it is, though, for the time period. (American Revolution.)

Conclusion: I feel horrible for saying this, but this book did nothing for me. I didn't like most of the characters besides Cornelia and a couple of her siblings, the voice didn't overwhelm me, I have no idea what was going on with the plot, and even though it was historical fiction, it felt unrealistic. All in all, I would not recommend this one unless you're a die-hard historical fiction fan. 1 and 1/2 roses.

Other notes:

Nothing funny this time, sorry!

Peace and cookies,

1 comment:

  1. OH. It's THIS book? o.O

    This book is in my school library. XD Glanced at it a few times -- like you said, the cover is pretty.

    Glad to know I was right to skip over it. XD


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