Better to Wish: The First Generation
Better to Wish: The First Generation

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Series: Family Tree Vol. 1   

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Annotation: In 1930, Abby Nichols is an eight-year-old girl growing up in Maine, but as the Depression deepens, and her mother dies, the responsibility of taking care of her family falls to her, and she has to put her dreams of going to college and becoming a writer on hold.
Catalog Number: #83651
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition Date: 2014
Pages: 226 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-67518-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-82236-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-67518-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-82236-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2012047940
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Abby's story begins in 1930, when she is eight years old and a traveling fair visits her village in Maine. While coping with her strict father's intolerance and her gentle mother's depression, she grows up chapter by episodic chapter, buying her sister a tea set for Christmas, losing her closest childhood friend, and feeling angry but helpless when her father institutionalizes her five-year-old brother, who has developmental disabilities. Eventually, Abby turns down the suitor her father insists that she marry and moves to New York City alone. With period attitudes woven seamlessly into the narrative, this historical novel reflects social norms during Abby's life. The individual scenes are vividly written and the overall story is engaging, but the 23-year time frame may limit its audience. However, in the Family Tree series, Martin plans to tell the stories of four girls from succeeding generations. Readers won over by Abby will happily look for her return as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Kirkus Reviews
Martin delivers the first novel of a planned quartet, set to span four generations of daughters. In a brief prologue, 100-year-old Abby muses about time's swift passage and the kaleidoscopic aspect of memories--and secrets-- recalled from the past. Readers meet Abby Nichols at age 8 in 1930. She's big sister to Rose, good friend to Sarah and Orrin, and she's already expert at navigating the moods of her domineering father, Luther, and emotionally fragile mother, Nell. Ensuing chapters cover 15 years. Luther builds a prosperous business, moving the family from their small Maine seaside cottage to a fancy house in a larger town. Servants, store-bought dresses and Zander, the appealing boy next door don't dampen Abby's longing for the authentic friendships of life before. Her academic and social successes are pummeled by tragedy: Beloved Sarah drowns in an icy pond, and Nell breaks after Luther secretly institutionalizes their developmentally disabled 5-year-old son. While outwardly obeisant to her bigoted father--who cruelly forbids friendships, jobs and college--Abby builds a capacity for compassion that sustains her siblings. Eventually--and critically--she learns to use it to nurture herself. In a 1945 epilogue, Abby's a working girl in New York City--and Zander's on her doorstep. Some threads--whither Orrin?--are left dangling. But the deftly rendered theme of personal resilience, laced with romance and Americana, will earn this a deservedly wide audience. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 3&11;7&12; In a small town in 1930s Maine, Abby Nichols is happy in her small bungalow by the sea. Life is stable, but not without challenges; her father has a volatile temper and is biased against people who are different and her mother experiences bouts with sadness and sees ghosts from the past. However, Abby finds solace and pleasure in her longtime friendships with Orrin and Sarah. Despite the changing times and the onset of the Great Depression, the family furniture business begins to boom and her father proudly moves them to a big house in a bigger town, complete with hired help. Regretfully saying goodbye to the house and friends she's so fond of is only the beginning of a life of love and loss, triumph and struggle for Abby. This first in a series is sure to be a hit with children, especially fans of historical fiction. The descriptive writing transports them right back to this fascinating period in time when families grappled with economic challenges, civil-rights injustices, and everyday concerns. Martin writes with respect for her readers, piquing their interest in history and tackling real-life issues head-on, but with grace. The series will continue with three more books following the lives of Abby's daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter.&12; Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
Word Count: 44,343
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 158546 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q59956
Lexile: 790L

From the beloved creator of The Baby-Sitter's Club series comes the first in he Family Tree series spanning four generations of girls. In this first title, readers are introduced to eight-year-old Abby Nichols, who lives in a small village on the Maine coast in 1930.

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