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really liked it
Set in Sullivan County, New York (not far from where I grew up), As Simple As It Seems is the story of a young girl named Verbena, who, after years in the dark about her true identity, learns she is adopted, and that her biological mother drank during pregnancy, and her biological dad is in prison for murder. This information changes the way Verbena sees herself, and she begins to suspect that she has inherited the ugliness of her parents’ dark sides. As she comes to terms with the new informati
The book is one of those serious children’s stories for which it can sometimes be difficult to find an audience. I enjoyed the writing style very much, especially the description, but I definitely saw it from an adult’s point of view, and as a kid, I don’t know that I would have been at all interested in the story. Still, though, Verbena’s struggle to understand changes in her life as she grows up and begins to see the truth of her situation, is a universal experience, and I think, if kids stick with the serious tone, they’ll see themselves in it.
Here is just a taste of the quality of the description. Verbena explains why she won’t attend this year’s Fourth of July barbecue:
Annie and I had always watched the fireworks together, lying on our backs on an old blue bedspread. We would each hold our breath in anticipation as the rockets shot up, then whoop and shriek as they exploded into patterns we gave names to, like waterfall, curly fry, and dandelion puff. I had never missed a Fourth of July celebration in my life, but I’d already made up my mind that I wasn’t going that year. I knew the old blue bedspread would feel as big as the ocean without Annie lying beside me. (p. 57)
I can imagine not only the happiness of past holiday celebrations, but also Verbena’s feelings of abandonment and loneliness now that those happy times are past.
I also absolutely loved the scenes where Verbena meets and befriends Pooch, the neighbor boy vacationing in a nearby house. They reminded me so much of Jennifer and Elizabeth’s friendship in Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, right down to the faux supernatural elements.
This is a quiet book, and it’s realistic fiction, which isn’t all that popular these days, but I really like it, and I hope I’ll be able to recommend it to at least a few kids in my library.
I am a huge fan of Sarah Weeks and while I did enjoy this story I was left wanting more! It is a very short story (I read it in less than two hours) and it has great thematic elements and an interesting story line. It just ended too soon! I just know there is more to this story. It is a great transition book for those kids who are moving out of the elementary style chapter books and moving into the deeper emotional pull of middle school stories without adult themes. A true transitional book.
Eleven-year-old Verbena Colter lives with her mom and dad, who both love her. She has been best friends with Annie since kindergarten, and they have a blast doing anything and everything together. Except for being short for her age, needing to wear glasses, and having had a lot of trouble reading, Verbena is usually happy. Annie begins hanging out with the popular girl, slowly drifting away from Verbena. It hurts a lot, and Verbena feels lost without her friend. She then uncovers an old family s
As Simple as it Seems is a coming of age story that is similar and different from the novel Where the Red Fern Grows. Both novels share a theme which is the importance of family. Billy’s family have supported Billy in every decision he made they also loved him unconditionally. Although Verbena did not live with her birth parents, her adopted parents loved and cared about her as if she was their own. Another theme both stories share is coming of age through experience and pain. After Billy has lost both Little Ann and Old Dan, he was furious, but when he saw the Red Fern grow between his two beloved hounds, he realized that that was a sign that they were okay and in a better place. Verbena, on the other hand, was pretending to be someone else entirely and seeing her friend between life and death she had to gain her confidence and courage again to overcome the challenge. Determination is a theme that the book As Simple as it Seems did not contain but Where the Red Fern Grows did. Billy has always wanted a pair of dogs, but he did not want any pair of dogs, he wanted two red-bone hounds. Unfortunately, his parents could not afford a pair of dogs since Billy’s parents were going through a depression. Still, Billy’s determination did not stop him from his desire. Friendship is a theme that the book Where the Red Fern Grows did not contain but As Simple as it Seems did. Pooch’s friendship begins to pull Verbena out of the storm that’s been burning inside of her and never gave up on her. In conclusion, As Simple as it Seems is a coming of age story that is similar and different from the novel Where the Red Fern Grows.
I rate this book five stars since I think that most people are going to enjoy it. What I didn’t like about this story is that it was long with many descriptions. This book was appealing to me because it made feel something while reading it. If I could change one thing about the story, it would be the conflict in the story. It would have been much more appealing if the story went in another direction towards Verbena meeting her birth parents. I recommend this book to everyone wanting to learn about coming of age and see Verbena grow through the story.