Memory Jug

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Since Mack's father died, Mack, her mother, and her sister have led a nomadic life, free of relationships. When they start to settle in Homer's Cove, Mack eventually opens up to people around her and realizes that though people may leave, there will always be a place for them in her memories.

Having taken over the job of speaking for her younger sister Amaryllis when a family tragedy causes her to stop talking, Mack resents having ...

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Overview

Since Mack's father died, Mack, her mother, and her sister have led a nomadic life, free of relationships. When they start to settle in Homer's Cove, Mack eventually opens up to people around her and realizes that though people may leave, there will always be a place for them in her memories.

Having taken over the job of speaking for her younger sister Amaryllis when a family tragedy causes her to stop talking, Mack resents having to step aside when she is no longer needed as a mouthpiece.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
Since her father died in a fire five years ago, 13-year-old Mack Humbel and her family have lived a nomadic existence. Her mother is a house sitter, so they seldom stay in one place for long. Mack prefers it that way-if you get too close to people, they always leave. As for Mack's younger sister, Amaryllis, who knows what she thinks? She hasn't spoken a word since her father's death. Amaryllis is more interested in staging elaborate funerals for departed dolls and stuffed animals. Things seem different, however, when the family moves to Homer's Cove, in the Adirondacks. For one thing, crabby Aunt Sydney decides to move in with them. Then Harry Goodwell begins spending far too much time with Mack's mother. Even silent Amaryllis has made a friend. Mack feels she must protect her family-they are in danger of becoming settled. In the end, Mack begins to believe that love and family are worth the risk. The plot runs a bit thin here, but Martin paints a lovely picture of village life in the Adirondacks-you can see the town lit up for Christmas, feel leaves crunching under your feet in the fall, and taste the fabulous monkey bread down at Sheila's Diner.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Mack, 13, is in charge of her family's gypsy life. Since the death of her father, she has been transient along with her antique-dealing, house-sitting mother Maggie and her younger sister, Amaryllis. As Maggie says, "My Mack is a master of organization. Why shouldn't we benefit from that?" Mack's self-imposed isolation and self-control and Amaryllis's refusal to speak a single word date from their father's death as he heeded their pleas and tried to rescue their dog from their burning house five years earlier. Mack's near burnout as she loses control over their lives and finally accepts that change and friendship can be good for all of them are the pivotal moments in this solidly crafted, realistic novel. Interesting characters are well drawn, including a truly distraught, flower-child mother; an eccentric aunt; and a cast of characters Mack calls "EWGs," or "Extremely Weird Group," with whom she finally forms friendships. The Adirondack setting is vividly captured through descriptions of townsfolk and the environment, and the language is natural and engaging. The plot is somewhat uneven, moving slowly at times. Nonetheless, this portrait of a strong young woman growing up in a demanding situation will engage both the hearts and heads of many young readers.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Mack Humbel's past holds a recurring theme of loss, for her father died in a fire after saving Mack and her younger sister, Amaryllis; the girls sent him back into the blaze with pleas to save their dog. Amaryllis has not spoken since that day, and the family has lived a gypsy's life, moving from place to place. Homer's Cove, a small hamlet in the Adirondacks, provides a new start, where the misanthropic Mack reluctantly discovers the extraordinary in everyday encounters and surroundings. Details of antiques, the small town, and its people overwhelm the first half of the story, as Mack skips from one holiday to the next, marking time. At the same time, Martin imbues ordinary events with meaning: eating monkey bread at the local bakery, taking in a Fourth of July fireworks display, paddling a canoe in a flooded basement, creating a "memory jug" with tokens from the past. Larger plot elements are given more conventional treatment: Amaryllis is provoked into speaking, Mack is spooked into accepting Harry, her mother's boyfriend, after fearing that he is part of an accident on the icy highway. Despite the drawbacks, Mack is a strong-willed character fighting to open up to the possibilities of new friends and feelings. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786803576
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 9/15/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 276
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.86 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2007

    Memory Jug

    I think that this is a good book because it is not boring and it seems like you just want to keep reading to see what will happen next. It is about a girl named Mack and her family. After Mack and Amaryllis, her sister, dad had died, them and their mother Maggie, and aunt Sidney, started house sitting. They live in other people's houses while the owners arn't there. Sometimes for months, or sometimes for years. The setting of the story takes place in Homer's cove. They are living in a place for over a year. Mack and Amaryllis go to school, make new friends, and have many adventures. Although Amaryllis doesn't speak, ever since her dad died. This is a book that I would recommend to any preteen or teenage girl.

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