Morning in a Different Place

Morning in a Different Place

4.0 3
by Mary Ann McGuigan
     
 


Fiona is a child of Irish immigrants; Yolanda is black. Compelled by financial hardship and concern about her daughter, Fiona’s mother has reunited with her husband, who struggles with alcoholism and the violence it triggers in him. Their new life offers Fiona the hope of normalcy and of finally being accepted by her peers. But her friendship with Yolanda is…  See more details below

Overview


Fiona is a child of Irish immigrants; Yolanda is black. Compelled by financial hardship and concern about her daughter, Fiona’s mother has reunited with her husband, who struggles with alcoholism and the violence it triggers in him. Their new life offers Fiona the hope of normalcy and of finally being accepted by her peers. But her friendship with Yolanda is not something her new friends will tolerate, and so Fiona deceives both Yolanda and herself as she tries to make a life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"McGuigan is as adept at evoking the class consciousness and racial politics of '60s New York as she is the horrors of adolescence, including insecurity and helplessness." --Kirkus Reviews

"History buffs will appreciate the visceral reminder of how much Kennedy's beliefs meant to the black community, and how devastating was his death." --Booklist

"Nostalgic. . . . The writing is competent, the mean-girl vibe will resonate with contemporary audiences, and the book provides a perspective on the working-class Irish-American experience during the Kennedy years." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature - Heather N. Kolich
A host of undeveloped characters stumbles through this clumsily contrived novel that is scarcely more than a collection of early 1960s issues. Two 13-year-old girls in New York, Fiona and Yolanda, experience the turmoil of race and ethnicity tensions, gangs, bullies, beatings, alcoholism, drugs, broken families, abusive parents, abandonment, pre-marital pregnancy, abortion, changing schools, and being outside of the in-crowd, all in 195 pages. And yet, the pace of the book is slow. Most of the action happens off-stage and the girls just talk about it. McGuigan crafts a couple of zingy one-liners. Aside from those, long descriptions and trivialities pack the pages, but fail to connect events or create a feeling of empathy for the characters. Although the pace picks up in the last two chapters, the reader is denied a satisfactory conclusion, because the assassination of President Kennedy preempts resolution of the main characters' conflicts. Reviewer: Heather N. Kolich
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Fiona finds herself besieged on all sides in this compelling tale set in autumn 1963. She is part of a large Irish family that has extracted itself from its patriarch, because Fiona's father gets abusive when drunk. The popular girls at school ignore Fiona until it appears that she might provide them a path to the cutest boy. And her friendship with Yolanda, who is black, meets with resistance both at school and at home from her mother. With all these taboos competing for her time, is it any wonder that readers first meet Fiona when she has run away, visiting Yolanda in the hospital under the scowls of a judgmental society? At first, McGuigan's tale is deceptively simple and quiet, even in the face of all these raging wars. The reader merely reflects on how little appears to be going on when it becomes clear that this reality is relevant today yet set in the past. Fiona serves as Everyperson for the audience as she makes her way through a myriad of people who all want something from her. Meanwhile she tries to make it through life as best she can. The book expertly weaves the presence of John F. Kennedy throughout Fiona's strife, comparing and contrasting the hope and optimism of his presidency with Fiona's own quest for strength, building to an ending that is inevitable, heartbreaking, and hopeful. McGuigan shows readers that quiet does not have to be boring; it can be quite powerful. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
School Library Journal

Gr 7-9

Fiona O'Doherty, 14, describes her complicated, sometimes painful life in the Bronx in 1963. Her alcoholic, abusive father has caused her mom to move the family into a small, crowded apartment with relatives and then, when things don't work out, back with him and more abuse. Fiona's mother does not approve of her friendship with Yolanda, an African-American girl. Each teen feels like an outsider except when they are together. One is plagued by racism and the other, by the instability of her dysfunctional family. Ultimately, Yolanda, a take-action person, convinces Fiona to stop going along with things and find a way to stand up to her father. Maintaining their friendship is sometimes difficult, especially for Fiona, who is enticed by the popular white girls in school when they start to pay attention to her because of her friendship with David Silverman. Unfortunately, she joins her new friends in excluding Yolanda, rationalizing her feelings of guilt. McGuigan has created rich characters and tackles several uncomfortable social issues. At times the integration of these issues is a bit heavy-handed. Fiona's voice reverberates through a range of emotional highs and lows in this story of friendship, loyalty, trust, racism, and coping that culminates with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Like Shana Burg's A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008), the novel offers insight into a turbulent era.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
An act of teenage rebellion in November 1963 sets off a chain of events that irrevocably changes 14-year-old Fiona O'Doherty's life and the world she inhabits. Fiona and her siblings spend a year moving house and changing schools to escape their father's alcohol-fueled fits of violence. But an ill-timed eviction notice and an uncomfortable stay with ungracious relatives leads the O'Dohertys to reconcile. Throughout the instability, Fiona finds an unlikely ally in African-American schoolmate Yolanda Baker. As the two become closer, the family's integrity and Fiona's hard-won acceptance by the popular clique hang in the balance. McGuigan is as adept at evoking the class consciousness and racial politics of '60s New York as she is the horrors of adolescence, including insecurity and helplessness. With the twin evils of domestic violence and President Kennedy's assassination looming in the background, the author's portrait of the chameleonic nature of teenage girls builds aggressively to a powerful finale. The intricate depiction of Fiona's impotence, however, through 150 pages of introspective analysis, might strike readers as heavy-handed and makes for an abrupt transition at the novel's close. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590785515
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
02/01/2009
Pages:
195
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
HL710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author


Mary Ann McGuigan was born in the Bronx, New York, to a large Irish Catholic family. A graduate of St. Peter’s College in New Jersey, she taught English for eight years. Her short stories and essays for adults have appeared in literary magazines and other publications, including the New York Times. Her first young adult novel, Cloud Dancer, was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and her second, Where You Belong, was a National Book Award finalist. She lives in Metuchen, New Jersey.

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