Jasmine Williamson, Teen Reviewer
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- (w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 10 - 13 Years
Read an Excerpt
By Nora Raleigh Baskin
LB ChildrensCopyright © 2003 Nora Raleigh Baskin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe bus ride was making me sick. Mrs. Thomsen said it was only a half an hour to the Roosevelt Mansion, but I think we'd been on the bus for an hour already. Everybody had their windows open, but mine was stuck and I didn't want to ask anyone for help.
I didn't know anybody. So I just looked out the window. I was thinking of everything that, if I could, I would tell my mother. I would tell her about this field trip, and my new teacher, and everything I was seeing on this bus ride. The clanking metal bridge we just crossed and the motorboats in the water below. I thought, not that long ago, only Indians would be paddling canoes on this wide, clear, quiet Hudson River. I would tell my mother how I could almost see what it must have looked like then, without the rusty, iron docks, before the trails of gasoline. She would like that. I took it all into my mind, like a movie I was watching, and I imagined telling her all about everything, every detail, every comment. I imagined her listening, nodding and approving.
The bus drove through Poughkeepsie. We were definitely in a city now. I kept my focus out the window. Maybe I'd forget I didn't belong here. Maybe something would look familiar.
After all, we used to live around here, on the other side of the river, before my mom and dad got divorced. We lived in New Paltz, where I live now. Again. But we had only lived there one year, and I can hardly remember it at all. After the divorce, my mom and I moved to Woodstock. A year later we moved to Phoenicia. We only stayed there for a year. And then we moved to Shandaken. I went to three different schools in less than three years.
But it's my house in Shandaken that I miss the most. I dream about it. In my dream, I am walking around from room to room and everything is gone. The whole house is empty. It almost looks as if the windows and doors are missing, like one of those open-sided dollhouses. The walls are bare. The furniture and rugs and paintings are all gone, and the wallpaper is peeling, like it's been abandoned for years. When I wake up, I have this terrible feeling. It takes me a long time to shake it. Sometimes all morning.
That's not really what the house looked like when we lived there. It was full and warm. In the summer it seemed to grow right out of all the wild, thorny plants and bushes that surrounded it. In the winter, the woodstove poured out so much heat that we had to open the windows a little bit and let the frosty air in from outside. Then it would get too cold and we'd shut the windows again. By morning the stove had gone out, and it was just freezing. Freezing.
There were wide slate steps that led right up to the front door from the road below. You had to walk under a splintery, white wooden arch, so dripping with vines you had to push them away to walk through. The steps were steep and they wobbled if you didn't walk right up the center. The first step was cracked in half and the last step was almost completely missing.
We rented the house. There were only a couple of other houses on the road, but nobody lived in those houses in the winter the way we did. The kitchen had a backdoor and a wooden screen door that banged shut behind you. It led out to a little flat spot with dirt and some grass, and then up to the garden and our well, which was just a really deep hole in the ground covered by a piece of wire mesh. You could peer down into the darkness and hear the water rushing far below. You could drop a pebble in and listen for the splash. Then farther up were the woods, which seemed to lead out to the rest of the world. To history.
Or maybe that's just the way I remember it. Maybe because I always used to pretend I was a pioneer. Sometimes, I played by myself, but most of the time Anne came with me, even though she was five years younger. If she found me, she followed-and I usually let her find me.
We would walk up into the woods where there was nothing, nothing to remind us that it wasn't the olden days. There was even a mossy, stone wall winding around the trees and along the edges of hills. Somebody long ago had built that wall, stone by stone. We walked for miles like that, pretending we lived a hundred years ago. Playing.
We didn't play the way boys play, running around chasing each other, making shooting noises. It was more like walking, just walking and talking and making up our lives and adventures.
But when it was too cold out, or raining, or when we were just bored with the olden days, we played Little People. We played Little People with armless, legless Fisher-Price toys, miniature figures, even those plastic trolls with the big ears and bulging eyes. We played with anything and everything we had-blocks and books, shoe boxes, and toy cars.
We played until playing became more real than real was. And better, of course.
Excerpted from Almost Home by Nora Raleigh Baskin Copyright © 2003 by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
Nora Raleigh Baskin grew up in Brooklyn and New Paltz, New York. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two sons.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I never talk to my mom much and this book really helped me understand that this surcumstnce is not just for me but for millions of other girls out there. I hardly ever talk to my younger siblings and this book really helped me find a way to vent my feelings to the person i live most: write letters to my mom.
I was pleasently surprised with this book. I think it was well written and is a great quick read.
This Book is awsome it helps me with my problems and conflicts. I will definetly read it to my children when I grow up. E-mail me if you want to talk about this awsome book!
This was a pretty good book. I'm sure a lot of kids can relate to Leah. Higly recommended for pre-teens.
Almost Home is written by Nora Raleigh Baskin. This book is extraordinary and is highly recommended for summer reading for both girls and boys. This is Ms. Baskinâ¿¿s seconed novel. She has also created What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows. She grew up in New Paltz, NY, as well as in Brooklyn. The main character in this book is Leah Baer; she is twelve yeas old and lives in New Paltz, New York. One of the very important minor characters is Will Hiller, the only one who seems to like her. Leahâ¿¿s parents are divorced, and she is living with her father, and her stepmother. The genre of this book is realistic fiction. There are real places mentioned in the book that are here in New Paltz such as Huguenot Street and the Mohonk Mountains. The book was great and highly recommended.
BAskin really relates her main character Leah to any 6th grade girl. When i was in 6th grade i faced alot of the same struggles as Leah did. This book is one of my favorite books and i highly recommend it for anyone ages 9-15