What a lovely book. I became a Polly Horvath fan years ago with The Trolls and Everything on a Waffle. This new book has a similar Horvathian episodic style, exquisite prose, and her unique dry understated wit. Set in a Massachusetts coastal town, 12 year-old Jane lives with her poet mother and younger siblings on the beach. In true Horvath fashion, eccentric characters populate the novel as do eccentric experiences — delivering Bibles by balloon, babysitting issues, and other intimate adventures. There are a number of connecting threads (family, fathers, friendship, and more) moving through the story, all nicely and satisfyingly resolved for our heroine Jane by the end.
Horvath always has a dry, deadpan humorous style that I’ve always loved. For example, in this book, Jane’s poet-mother is evidently doing what she can to find and put food on the table and there is mention of a large bag of rice. Toward the end of the book Jane, her mother, and a friend are mourning the death of another character:
We don’t feel much like having a barbecue now. We sit around and eat a little rice.
(And again a few paragraphs later when someone stops by to discuss the funeral.)
“Of course we will be there. We will all be there,” says my mother and then offers Mrs. Merriweather a little rice, but she cannot stay. She has other arrangements to make.
A book that lingers long after you are done with it. Completely charming.