Picturing Alyssa by Alison Lohans

1930s United States - the Great Depression

For Alyssa Dixon, things keep going from bad to worse. Her baby sister was still-born, her mother is depressed, her father is stressed and their household is a compete disaster. To top it all off, a girl in her class has decided Alyssa is her  current whipping boy. Just as things start to worsen, she finds an old photograph of ancestors. Drawn to the smiling girl in the photo, Alyssa decides to take a closer look through a magnifying glass.  She finds herself transported back to a farm in Iowa, 1931 where she meet her great-grandmother, an eleven year old girl. It seems tough times and courage may be part of her family heritage.

Alison Lohans uses some well-worn novel devices to tell her coming of age story.  With one part historical fiction, one part fantasy, and one part realistic fiction, it is a decent read.  The story tells a bit about the life of Quakers in early America and takes a look at the current stand of Quakers on peace and American patriotism.  While I will likely purchase it for my church library, I’m not sure it will make the cut for school. The writing is good but not fantastic, the story is interesting but not riveting, the content is a little “too American” for my tastes. A worthy addition for an American school library but only a possible for a Canadian.
Could be used when studying different religious and cultural groups, particular early immigrants to North America and also as a selection for study of historical fiction. Suitable for grades 4-7.
Rating: fair to good
Review CM

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Filed under children's lit, library, reading

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