A little bit about books, a little bit about life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday Memory--The Changeling

Well, today isn't Monday, it's Tuesday....would you accept a "late" Monday Memory?

Just a (Reading) Fool at http://justareadingfool.wordpress.com/
has been having fun reliving his childhood thru reminiscing about books he read in his youth. Or not. Some of them ring a bell, but when he re-reads them as an adult, some leave him cold. But that's what is so fun about reminiscing.

At first, I was just making comments on his posts about the books he read as a youth... I have read most of them. But yesterday's book, "The Incredible Journey", I have never read. Shame on me. I do love the movie tho...the one with Michael J. Fox as a voice of one of the dogs (part of the reason I love it, is because a lot of it was filmed in Oregon, around where my family homesteaded a century ago... it was fun to think I recognized some scenery, but I digress once again ).

Since I've never read this "Monday Memory", I decided to do one of my own: The Changeling by Zilpha Keatly Snyder.

A blurb from the inside cover:
Ivy Carson belonged to the notorious Carson family, which lived in a run-down house in suburban Rosewood. But Ivy was not a typical Carson. There was something wonderful about her. Ivy explained it by saying that she was a changeling, a child of supernatural parents who had been exchanged for the real Ivy Carson at birth. This classic book was first published in 1970. It was awarded a Christopher Medal and named an outstanding book for young people by the Junior Library Guild.

I must have read this book when I was around 10 or 11. It became my favorite book of all time...that summer. I remember my friend Kathy and I, riding our bikes to the library once a week and taking turns checking out "The Changeling" back and forth, all summer long.
The Changeling was about a friendship between Ivy and Martha. Martha came from a home, that was very structured and upper-middle class, while Ivy came from a poorer part of town with an obvious dysfunctional family. The two became friends and invented a wonderful, magical, make-believe world in which they would play together. They never met often at each other's homes, but would play in the wooded area, which was perfect for their make-believe world.
Their friendship lasted years and went thru rough times...the rough times of growing up, peer pressure and--yes--a class system. Even tho we don't want to admit it, in the United States, there are cliques and class system situations that children have to learn to deal with all the time.

These are the things that stuck with me about the book.
Ivy and Martha played for hours in a wooded area. They knew to be home for dinner, but other than that, no one came looking for them.

This is true. I mean, that's how it was in 1970. We could leave our parents home, and ride our bikes or walk anywhere and no one thought anything of it. We just knew that we, too, like Ivy and Martha, had to be home in time for dinner. There was such freedom at that time. During the summer, my friends and I would ride our bikes to orchards on the outskirts of town and read our books or play hide and seek or truth or dare. Or we would ride downtown and get an ice cream at Henry's. Or, we would go to the "canyon", which of course had a swamp monster and we would run and hide and get lost in it. (when I go back home now, the canyon is a park with walking and biking trails, only a few blocks long... but we really thought we were lost.)
So, I identified with the freedom that Ivy and Martha had.

And the class system? In our town, there was a neighborhood called "Sunny Slope Homes". A lot of migrant workers lived there with their families. My mother had reservations about me befriending Esther Gonzales, who lived in Sunny Slope, because it was a poorer part of town. To be honest, Esther was also Mexican... I was so in love with her brother Henry in the 5th grade...which gave my mother pause: fast forward 38 years and her great-grandchildren are Mexican and Guamanian, as well as Norwegian and Italian. My how times change. In my family, for the better.
There I go, digressing again.
Esther's house, even tho she was a poor Mexican and she lived in Sunny Slope, was clean and inviting and nice. And it had Henry, the love of my 5th grade life.
My other friend, Cheryl Miller, lived not in Sunny Slope homes, but in a neighborhood down the street. My mom felt more comfortable about my friendship with her, but in that household, there were dirty dishes, unmade beds, laundry overflowing...things that were not so in our home. It intrigued me... that families could live in such disarray and be happy. In my home, you cleaned and your things were picked up and put away, and a dish was never undone.
Both of these friendships intrigued me, because their home lives were so different from my own.
Just as Ivy and Martha in "The Changeling" came from different backgrounds and were such close friends.

I also always had an imaginary world going on inside my head (and then I read "You never promised me a Rose Garden" and found out that voices in our heads isn't such a good thing...LOL ).
I just felt a kinship with the book... The Changeling. I loved it. I read it for years every summer. I haven't read it in over 30 years and I wonder how it would read to me today? I think I might have to find it and learn if my memory holds true.
A magical, wonderful, intriguing book about what it means to be an outsider and to find friendship.

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