Out to Pasture: But Not over the Hill

Out to Pasture: But Not over the Hill

by Effie Leland Wilder
     
 

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Anyone who thinks that retirement is rocking chair and Medicare is in for a surprise when they meet the folks at Fair Acres Home. This charming first novel by eighty-five-year-old Effie Leland Wilder stars Hattie McNair, a journal-keeper and eavesdropper extraordinaire. Hattie overhears a resident planning her own funeral -- complete with caterer so that her… See more details below

Overview

Anyone who thinks that retirement is rocking chair and Medicare is in for a surprise when they meet the folks at Fair Acres Home. This charming first novel by eighty-five-year-old Effie Leland Wilder stars Hattie McNair, a journal-keeper and eavesdropper extraordinaire. Hattie overhears a resident planning her own funeral -- complete with caterer so that her daughter-in-law's cooking doesn't make the funeral-goers sorry they came. Hattie begins her journal that night. Through the entries and letters to a friend on the outside, Hattie tells the stories of the high -- and low -- times at Fair Acres that is sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and always uplifting.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hattie McNair, the feisty protagonist of this modest, semi-autobiographical first novel, is a widow living in a South Carolina retirement home. Through her diary entries, we watch as the home's residents tell their life stories, exchange confidences and gossip, develop romantic crushes and turn to one another for support. Longing for a change in her daily routine, Hattie debates whether life is worth living. Her answer is a resounding "yes.'' Together with Minna McKenzie, a retired music teacher, she plays piano duets, belting out a Scott Joplin rag. On an adventurous walk, Hattie discovers an empty, mysterious cottage completely covered with kudzu vines, tracks down its owner, a reclusive widower, and helps persuade him to rent it out. She also comforts her friend, Sarah Moorer, who is dying of cancer. Interpersed with the journal entries are letters to friends and cheery light verse ("August is a messy month/ With skeeters, flies, and fleas, / With thunderstorms and gale alarms/ And weeds up to your knees''). More a sketch than a finished work, this is an unpretentious, occasionally poignant look at aging. Illustrations. (Apr.)
Children's Literature
In this delightful novel, elderly Hattie McNair takes us through her life and the lives of her fellow senior citizens at the FairAcres Home in Drayton, South Carolina. Through Hattie's unique and colorful journal entries, the reader learns that life in a retirement home may not be as dull as one would think. Hattie shares her loving and witty personality with those around her and keeps the reader turning the pages with her hilarious tales of the inhabitants at FairAcres. Through her narrative, Hattie suggests that age does not always hinder ability, as she takes on many tasks to better the lives of her friends and family and improve her community. Upon finding an old, abandoned, and dilapidated house, Hattie seeks the owner and has it restored for a very deserving handyman who works at the home. At times, Hattie must comfort close friends who have lost loved ones, and she even deals with death herself as she accepts it as an inevitable point in life. After losing one beloved friend, she writes in her journal: "Modern Medicine has not really prolonged life—not real life; it has just lengthened the process of dying." Although Hattie may seem old in terms of age, her warm heart and clever mind are still fully intact, and she becomes a favorite at FairAcres Home through her good deeds there. Hattie's humorous stories about the residents greatly compliment the book's theme that getting older can be positive. The actions of Hattie and her fellow residents imply that people can age gracefully. Effie Leland Wilder uses excerpts of Hattie's journal entries, as well as memories, told as flashbacks, to give the reader a more accurate vision of the protagonist as well as other charactersin the book. Illustrator Laurie Ann Kline uses a few simple illustrations throughout the story that help to put friendly faces with the names Hattie mentions so often in her accounts. Although this book is based on a group of senior citizens, I think any young adult would enjoy its quirky humor and valuable lessons. 2002 (orig. 1995), Peachtree Publishers, Ages 12 up.
—Lauren Ross

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781561452651
Publisher:
Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
04/28/2002
Pages:
177
Sales rank:
176,434
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

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