Glennis, Before and After

Overview

Glennis just wants things to be the way they were. This means that Dad would be proven innocent and be out of prison; Mom would recover from her nervous breakdown. And the whole family -- Vinnie, Louise, Allie and Missy, and Glennis -- would be together again, living in a big house with a huge backyard and having family picnics complete with badminton nets and hoops for croquet.


As the family has dissolved, Glennis has chosen to live with ...

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Overview

Glennis just wants things to be the way they were. This means that Dad would be proven innocent and be out of prison; Mom would recover from her nervous breakdown. And the whole family -- Vinnie, Louise, Allie and Missy, and Glennis -- would be together again, living in a big house with a huge backyard and having family picnics complete with badminton nets and hoops for croquet.


As the family has dissolved, Glennis has chosen to live with eccentric Aunt Wanda, who cooks only meals that come out of boxes, and wears rhinestone shirts and cowboy boots. When Wanda is at work, Glennis has no one but Skipper, Aunt Wanda's only son, to keep her company. But living with both of them has allowed Glennis to visit Dad every weekend at the correctional facility, where she is sure he'll ask her to help prove his innocence. Quite the opposite happens and Glennis is left wondering: If her life before is gone forever, then where does she stand now?


Patricia Calvert writes with power and grace in a novel that probes the intricacies of family relationships and the many prisons that we construct for ourselves.

While her father serves his term in a detention center, twelve-year-old Glennis learns that "not all prisons are made out of stone, and spiders aren't the only ones who can weave webs..

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Twelve-year-old Glennis compares her family to Humpty Dumpty "broken into a kazillion million pieces." After her father is jailed for committing a white-collar crime and her mother suffers a nervous breakdown, Glennis's brother and three sisters fly off in different directions to begin new lives in other people's homes. Glennis herself chooses to move near the federal prison, even though it means living on the wrong side of the tracks with cousin Skipper and Aunt Wanda ("whoup till my dad went to prisonwas the only black sheep in our family"). Besides breaking stereotypes of heroes and villains, Calvert (The Snowbird; Bigger) explores how emotional prisons are built out of self-deception. Glennis's phases of hope (when she still believes in her father's innocence), anger (when her father patiently explains his guilt) and determination to regain some of her losses are vividly and sensitively portrayed. Throughout this poignant novel, readers will recognize Glennis's inner strength as she learns to accept and forgive human failings. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8Glennis and her four siblings are farmed out to relatives and friends when their father is sent to prison for a white-collar crime and their mother has a nervous breakdown. Glennis chooses to stay with Aunt Wanda and cousin Skipper despite the comedown in economic status because here she can visit Dad on Saturdays, help him prove his innocence, and get set for a new trial. Similar to Marcia Byalick's It's a Matter of Trust (Harcourt, 1995), Calvert focuses on Glennis's coming to terms with the guilt of a beloved parent. Unfortunately, the mental adjustment mostly takes place outside the story and readers have little preparation for the girl's acceptance of herself and her father. The story has some nice writing and wonderful images ("my Humpty Dumpty family"), and Glennis is a strong female character with guts and ideas. However, Byalick does a better job of showing the interaction within a family torn from idyllic perfection, and Barthe DeClements's Breaking Out (Dell, 1993), Monkey See, Monkey Do (1990; o.p.), and Five-Finger Discount (1989; o.p., both Delacorte) show the humiliation and embarrassment among peers, which never really comes up here. Most far-fetched is Glennis's move from being the ignored middle child to a leader of her far-flung family, and her new family. However, those are nitpicky points in an engaging novel about a child caught in a tough situation.Carol A. Edwards, Minneapolis Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Her father is in prison and the family has broken up, but Glennis is convinced that things will soon go back to the way they were in this introspective problem novel. Convinced of her father's innocence, Glennis moves in with black-sheep Aunt Wanda so she can visit him every Saturday at the nearby Federal Detention Center. The crisis comes when her father, convicted of fraud, tells her he's guilty. Glennis angrily breaks off her visits and launches a series of projects: wresting her attention-starved cousin, Skipper, away from the TV; persuading Wanda to quilt again; and organizing a picnic for her scattered family. She realizes that her brother, sisters, and mother—who is recuperating from a nervous breakdown—have new lives and won't be getting back together.

While an unlikely scene in which Glennis suddenly confesses her secret to her whole class may torpedo the author's credibility, Calvert (Writing To Richie, 1994, etc.) creates a compulsively self-analytical character "older than twelve, not quite thirteen." Glennis, with some prodding from an older, wiser supporting cast, learns that she has built a prison for herself out of naïve hopes but has the ability to change and, ultimately, to forgive.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380731329
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Pages: 138
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.59 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2005

    Worth your time!

    Great! A story that displays one girl's hope and determination very well. Moving on, forgiving, and forgetting, are some of the hardest struggles people go through in life! This novel is very well written.

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