Better to Wish (Family Tree Series #1)

Better to Wish (Family Tree Series #1)

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by Ann M. Martin
     
 

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Four generations. Four girls. One family.
An amazing new four-book series from Ann M. Martin.

In 1930, Abby Nichols is eight, and can't imagine what her future holds. The best things today would be having a dime for the fair, keeping her Pops from being angry, and saving up eighty-seven cents to surprise her little sister with a tea set for Christmas.

But

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Overview


Four generations. Four girls. One family.
An amazing new four-book series from Ann M. Martin.

In 1930, Abby Nichols is eight, and can't imagine what her future holds. The best things today would be having a dime for the fair, keeping her Pops from being angry, and saving up eighty-seven cents to surprise her little sister with a tea set for Christmas.

But Abby's world is changing fast. Soon there will be new siblings to take care of, a new house to move into, and new friends to meet. But there will also be good-byes to say and hard choices to make. As Abby grows older, how will she decide what sort of life will fit her best?

In this incredible new series, bestselling author Ann M. Martin brings the past and the present together one girlhood at a time and shows readers the way a family grows.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
A prologue dated in 2022 sets the scene as Abby Nichols reflects on her life from her perspective of having lived 100 years. She explains that this memoir is a kaleidoscope that she is using to piece together pieces of her life and that different pictures appear every time she slips back into memory. In the first episode, Abby is eight years old living in Lewisport, Maine, and anticipating seeing the two-headed snake that would be appearing at the traveling fair that evening. Each chapter begins with a date taking Abby through significant events in her life from 1932 to 1940 when she was eighteen years old and ending with an epilogue from 1945. Abby is a character of strength and perseverance. She manages to (mostly) obey her domineering father while maintaining friendships that he disapproves of with such people as Catholics and recent emigrates from Ireland. Her father is a successful carpenter and the family is financially secure despite the depression. They move to a big house with servants, but Abby prefers their small cottage by the ocean in Lewisport. Abby’s mother has lost children through childbirth and through her husband’s ignorance of dealing with a child with a disability. She is constantly depressed and eventually withdraws into a world of her own. Abby takes care of her younger sisters, but manages to earn honors for her scholastic achievements and juggle several beaus who come around frequently. This is the first in a series of books intended to show strong women through four generations. The next one will be about Abby’s daughter, then her granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. Part of the “Family Tree” series. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
The New York Times Book Review - J. Courtney Sullivan
Martin excels at capturing the hopes and hardships of adolescent girls.
From the Publisher

Martin (Ten Rules for Living with My Sister) paints an authentic picture of white middle-class life during the 1930s in this first installment of the Family Tree series, tracing four generations of American girls. Growing up in Maine, eight-year-old Abby Nichols is the oldest daughter of an ambitious carpenter eager to realize the American Dream. But his prejudices are strong, too: he won’t let Abby associate with her Irish Catholic neighbor, Orrin, among others. As Abby’s father gains success, she enjoys more privileges, including a big new house in the city, but the family’s newfound prosperity doesn’t ease her outrage over her father’s mistreatment of the less fortunate, including Abby’s mentally impaired baby brother. Besides addressing the subject of bigotry, Martin underscores the powerlessness of wives and children at the time, revealing the positive and negative sides of tight family bonds. Abby grows into a resilient young woman (the novel spans more than 10 years), willing to speaks her mind and assert her independence. Martin incorporates universal themes into this period piece, and her poignant writing is sure to satisfy fans. - Publishers Weekly starred review
Children's Literature - Susan Borges
Best-selling author of the "Babysitter's Club" series has written a wonderfully rich and engaging historical fiction story for middle school readers. This story, which begins in the small coastal town of Lewiston, Maine, in 1930, is simple yet complex, captivating yet edgy, and compassionate yet harsh. Readers first meet Abby Nichols when she is eight years old and they experience her life's story as a daughter, sister, friend, and strong young woman who is finding her way in a time of depression, war, bigotry, and real life conflicts as well as pleasures. Readers will carry the story of Abby Nichols in their hearts long after reading it, because Abby deals head-on with a mom who struggles with serious depression, a dad who is racist and unattached from his family, a young sister whom she cherishes and must help care for, and several wonderful friends from whom she draws strength and is able to find comfort. This is one of those rare books that will truly be an excellent read for people of many ages. The story is extremely engaging and informative because it is so specific to the time period in which the Nichols family is living. Abby and her entire family struggle with issues that expose their human sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and challenges such as the impact of social classes, financial burden, bigotry, discrimination, and insensitivity to the handicapped. Readers of all ages will be drawn to the Nichols family because this story is told with a great deal of compassion and many of the issues which this family faces in 1930 and 1940 are issues which continue to persist in society today to varying degrees. Readers of this book will eagerly await the publication of the second book in this wonderful "Family Tree" series about friendships and family, and the life and death of four generations of girls as they mature into adulthood. Reviewer: Susan Borges
School Library Journal
Gr 3�7—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.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545675185
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/29/2014
Series:
Family Tree Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
407,519
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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