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Under the Beetle's Cellar (Molly Cates Series #2)

Under the Beetle's Cellar (Molly Cates Series #2)

by Mary Willis Walker

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Going forward without a past isn not easy to do. But Buhlaine Sims has been doing it for as long as she can remember. Then her father returns to town, and Buhlaire's world is turned upside down.


Going forward without a past isn not easy to do. But Buhlaine Sims has been doing it for as long as she can remember. Then her father returns to town, and Buhlaire's world is turned upside down.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
ISBN 0-590-47365-4 In a starred review, PW said, ``With exceptional grace and honesty, Hamilton sketches a vibrant portrait of a gifted 12-year-old of mixed race in search of her identity.'' Ages 12-up. (Mar.)q
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Buhlaire Sims is a struggling adolescent. She has a mother who works out of town most of the time and she lives on the wrong side of town with two aunts, one bossy and the other blind. She looks different, does not make friends easily, is tormented by a boy named Grady, and sorely misses having a father whom she believes was killed in Vietnam. This is a compelling story of growing up, searching for truth, coping with mental illness, and extended families. It received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.
The ALAN Review - Lisa J. McClure
Hamilton is an expert in character study. This time, she examines twelve-year-old Buhlaire-Marie Sims in her search for identity, a process complicated by the fact that her mother is hardly ever at home and her father, she is told, was killed in Vietnam. Left to be raised by relatives who refuse to talk about her past, and disquieted by an obvious lack of acceptance by town residents because of "who she was and what she looked like," Buhlaire battles everyone around her for recognition and acceptance. As she unravels family secrets, she must struggle with accepting herself and her family. Hamilton's storytelling has never been better. Her blending of first-person narrative with Buhlaire's stream-of-consciousness commentary invites the reader to relive Buhlaire's struggles and understand them from the inside out. The only flaw is that, at the end, Hamilton's voice overtakes Buhlaire's and indulges in too much analysis.
Library Journal
One would think that Walker's The Red Scream (Doubleday, 1994), which won an Edgar Award, would be a tough act to follow. The intrepid author, however, exhibits no signs of sophomore jinx in this spectacular sequel featuring Texas journalist Molly Cates. Samuel Mordecai, a fanatical, self-proclaimed prophet, kidnaps a busload of schoolchildren and their driver, a detached Vietnam veteran, and holds them beneath a heavily armed compound. While Cates delves into Mordecai's bizarre past and federal authorities attempt to negotiate with him, it becomes clear that the hostages are doomed. The final 30 minutes of Under the Beetle's Cellar are almost painfully suspenseful, and listeners will surely draw parallels with the horrifying incidents in Waco, TX, involving David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. Judith Ivey reads well, and the hokey music is used sparingly. The abridgment is adequate, but listeners may find the nonstop action a bit disconcerting. All in all, this is a good addition to the suspense collections of libraries that can't wait for an unabridged edition.-Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Discovering that her mother and relatives lied about her father dying in Vietnam, angry Buhlaire-Marie Sims, 12, is determined to find and communicate with her dad. When he rescues her during a January blizzard, he leads his daughter to a highway underpass, his space among the homeless of Plain City. Buhlaire learns that her father is a troubled man, estranged from his family because of his mental instability and racially mixed parentage. Although he treats her kindly, she begins to perceive the confusion and unpredictability of his life. Buhlaire has experienced her own ostracization because of her mother's nightclub career, her home among the stilted river bottom ``water houses,'' and her light skin. Although she is loved and cared for, her adolescent sensibilities are aroused when she realizes that her family has shielded her from her own identity. Through candid thoughts, realistic dialogue, and a symbolic blend of setting and self-discovery, Hamilton has created a testimonial on the powerful bonds of blood and ``back time,'' or heritage. Buhlaire emerges from her emotional turmoil and quest with an appreciation for the attentions and personal struggles of a classmate; with renewed affection for her family; and, with a compassionate understanding of hard choices that are part of life.-Gerry Larson, Chewning Junior High School, Durham, NC
Hazel Rochman
Hamilton's style gets plainer, but her words lose none of their music or their depth. She makes one girl's search for identity both a realistic story and a universal myth of awakening. At 12, Buhlaire Sims is a proud, smart outsider. None of the kids in her small midwestern town will have much to do with her: maybe it's prejudice about her mixed skin color, maybe it's her home. Her loving mother works as a nightclub singer and dancer, and Buhlaire is cared for by her extended family. She has always been told her father is dead, but then he turns up in town, and her whole view of herself and her world is transformed. He's a stranger, homeless, mentally unstable, and needy, and his skin is pale, almost white. Raging at her family, which has kept the truth from her, she gives him money and is tempted to run away with him. One of those who stop her is a boy in her class who has seemed to be her sneering enemy but turns out to be her friend. Much of the story takes place outdoors, and the changes in the winter landscape--from frozen stillness to transforming flood--mirror Buhlaire's inner experience. Everything is smoky colored, light and shadow, not only in physical appearances but also in our feelings, the mistakes we all make, our frailty, and our love. In a transcendent scene, Buhlaire sings in harmony with her mother the popular song about the light that shines on all of us "when the night is cloudy."

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Molly Cates Series , #2
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.03(d)
760L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Mary Willis Walker (1942) is an American author of crime fiction. She began writing in her mid-forties publishing her first thriller Zero at the Bone in 1991 which she won an Agatha Award for. In 1994 she began writing her Molly Cates series with the book The Red Scream for which she won an Edgar Award.

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