It's an odd thing to get really involved in a book and stay up too late reading, but most of the time thinking to myself, "I don't especially like this book." Up a Road Slowly begins with 7-year-old Julie mourning the death of her mother and being whisked off to live with her elderly, spinster Aunt Cordelia in the country. It ends at Julie's graduation from high school.
Some things I did like about Julie:
- Honesty. She tells the truth and doesn't beat around the bush, but says what she means.
- Spunk. She enjoys adventures and being more "tom boy-ish" than other girls at school.
- Thinking. She likes school and learning and relating Shakespeare and other poetry to her life.
- Introspection. She analyzes her feelings and faults and tries to correct them.
- It often seems disjointed. Another book with many stories, without a well-defined conflict. Maybe it has to do with the whole "coming of age" book.
- Covers too much time.
- Some of the later chapters a bit mature for elementary readers. (One character, Carlotta, has to go live with an aunt in Idaho for several months after dating the wrong guy.)
- Felt like a soap opera at times with her mom dying, father dating and remarrying, aunt's former love returning to the neighborhood, demanding boyfriend, break-up, misery, finding love...
Random train conductor trying to console her. "It happens the world over--we love ourselves more than we do the one we say we love. We all want to be Number One; we've got to be Number One or nothing! We can't see that we could make ourselves loved and needed in the Number Two, or Three, or Four spot...we'll rip and tear at the loved one till we've ruined every smidgin of love that was ever there." (p. 39)
Uncle Haskell on the death of a school-mate that nobody liked. "Hadn't you rather thank Heaven that she has escaped what life had to offer her? ...Come, Julie, death may be the great equalizer; let's not give in to the hypocrisy that it is the great glorifier." (p. 59)
Aunt Cordelia's former love, Jonathan, to Julie before graduation. "Firelight does for an old room like this what wisdom does for an old face, Julie. It softens the grimmer aspects and compensates for the drained color."
"Doesn't goodness do the same thing, Jonathan?" I asked.
"That's the kind of wisdom I am talking about. Learning isn't always enough, you know. I've seen some very unlovely old faces that belonged with very well-stocked brains." (p.178)
Hunt, Irene. Up a Road Slowly. Pearson Education, 1966.