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A Corner of the Universe

A Corner of the Universe

4.6 162
by Ann M. Martin

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Ann Martin's phenomenal Newbery Honor book, now in paperback The summer Hattie turns 12, her predictable smalltown life is turned on end when her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in over ten years. Hattie has never met him, never known about him. He's been institutionalized; his condition invovles schizophrenia and autism. Hattie, a shy girl who


Ann Martin's phenomenal Newbery Honor book, now in paperback The summer Hattie turns 12, her predictable smalltown life is turned on end when her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in over ten years. Hattie has never met him, never known about him. He's been institutionalized; his condition invovles schizophrenia and autism. Hattie, a shy girl who prefers the company of adults, takes immediately to her excitable uncle, even when the rest of the family -- her parents and grandparents -- have trouble dealing with his intense way of seeing the world. And Adam, too, sees that Hattie is special, that her quiet, shy ways are not a disability,

Editorial Reviews

A 2003 Newbery Honor Book

The Barnes & Noble Review
Bringing back memories of her extraordinarily moving yet quietly told novel Belle Teal, Ann M. Martin (who also pens the popular Baby-Sitters Club series) takes us back to the 1960s, where we spend a not-so-typical summer with one girl and her mentally ill uncle.

Hattie Owen enjoys peaceful Millerton summertimes with "houses nodding in the heavy air," being in charge of Miss Hagerty's breakfast tray at her parents' boardinghouse, and drinking lemonade on the porch after supper. Yet this year, it's different -- Hattie's uncle Adam is coming home. Returning from a Chicago school that's just closed and whose existence is kept quiet by adult family members, Adam is a 21-year-old man with a child's mind, having a knack for talking quickly, a savant-like ability for remembering weekdays, and a passion for I Love Lucy. Hattie and Adam wind up spending precious time together -- including a visit to the recently arrived carnival with Hattie's new friend, Leila -- which makes her feel soulfully connected to her uncle, especially when he declares that she's "one of the people who can lift the corners of our universe." But when Hattie takes Adam on the ferris wheel one night, it sets off dramatic events that lead Hattie's family to strengthen its bonds and changes her life's outlook forever.

A novel with a flavor similar to Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie or Kimberly Willis Holt's When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, this absorbing look at a shake-up of one family's small-town normalcy will bring you to tears but leave you feeling ultimately triumphant. Martin paints her characters masterfully, letting Uncle Adam's unsure energy carry an unpredictable foreboding beneath the story while Hattie builds a gradual rebelliousness against the denial and unspoken truths that surround her. A powerful work that presses all the right emotional buttons and touches on all-too-human themes, A Corner of the Universe is one book that should not be missed. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
A 12-year-old girl had been anticipating a summer as comfortably uneventful as all the others-until her uncle with "mental problems" makes a surprise entrance, turning everything upside-down. "Hearts will go out to both as they step outside the confines of their familiar world to meet some painful challenges," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Hattie Owens begins her summer vacation in the typical way: helping her parents run their boarding house and drinking lemonade on the front porch. But life changes when Adam enters their world. Adam is Hattie's 21-year-old, mentally disabled uncle; until now she has never even heard of him. The Owens' world is thrown upside down as they learn to care for and relate to Adam. Hattie's grandmother has difficulty dealing with Adam's unsophisticated ways and loud temper tantrums. Yet Hattie and Adam are instant friends, and she discovers that Adam brightens her world with his happiness. Through this relationship, Hattie must struggle with family, friendship, and what it means to be different. This is a beautiful tale of heartache and true friendship that challenges readers both to evaluate how they relate to those who are different, and find a way to "lift a corner of the universe" by exploring beyond their world. 2002, Scholastic Press, 189 pp.,
— Lindsay Schwanbeck
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Hattie Owen's life changes forever when a hitherto unknown mentally disabled uncle returns to live with her grandparents in the small town that comprises Hattie's entire world in this novel by Ann M. Martin (Scholastic, 2002). From their first meeting it's clear that Adam sees life much differently and expresses emotions more intensely than is "normal" or comfortable for his aging and controlling parents. His outlandish antics, unexpected outbursts, and emotional vulnerability make him an appealing, yet challenging person whose tendency to ask questions that others might prefer be left unvoiced creates both humorous and uncomfortable situations. Judith Ivey's soft-spoken yet impassioned narration perfectly captures Hattie's desire to help her uncle navigate the raging currents of his feelings as well as her fear that his problems may someday surface in her own personality. Hattie's longing for things to remain the same and her fear of the world beyond her neighborhood conflict with her tentative efforts to make new friends. Ivey effectively uses this tension to draw listeners ever deeper into Hattie's world, providing a thoroughly satisfying and thought-provoking auditory experience.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In July of 1960, just as she is turning 12, Hattie Owen's quiet, solitary summer-occupied with books, the various residents of her parents' boarding house, small errands about town, and avoiding her grandmother-is disrupted, bringing a loss of a kind of innocence and a look at the wide borders of the world. Hattie's autistic, emotionally challenged young uncle returns home to live with his parents after the institutional school in which he has lived half his life-and all of Hattie's-closes permanently. Hattie's well-to-do and severe grandparents are clearly burdened by their difficult child, but Hattie is intrigued, and charmed, by Adam's rapid-fire way of talking, his free-associating, and his liberal use of dialogue from "I Love Lucy." Adam's quirky, childlike enthusiasm and his obvious delight with her endear him to Hattie immediately, as does his vulnerability to Nana's strictures on behavior. When a carnival comes to town Hattie befriends Leila, a girl who travels in the carnival with her family, and it is Adam and Leila who together give Hattie her first birthday celebration among friends. Adam's crush on one of the boarders at the Owens' rooming house is the catalyst for the tragic ending, though Adam's fundamental inability to protect his feelings in the world destroys him. His suicide and its aftermath-his siblings' grief, his mother's sudden remorse, Hattie's courage to speak at his funeral-are nearly unsurprising, but moving nevertheless. In the end Hattie has had a glimpse into, as she says, "how quickly our world can swing between what is comfortable and familiar and what is unexpected and horrifying," and she has opted for herself to live in such a world, to keep lifting thecorners of the universe. Martin's voice for Hattie is likable, clear, and consistent; her prose doesn't falter. A solid, affecting read.
From the Publisher

Declining, as she always does, both her best (and only) friend's invitation to Maine and her grandparents' offer of summer camp, Hattie plans to spend the summer of her twelfth birthday in her hometown. She likes to wander the town's few streets, visiting the library and her grandparents and her favorite stores, but always staying close to home, which is in her case a boardinghouse run by her parents. But Hattie's desired ordinary summer is upset when not one but two strangers come to town. First to arrive is her hitherto unrevealed twenty-one-year-old uncle Adam, who suffers from an unspecified mental illness that makes his conversations an enthusiastic milange of sense, nonsense, and word-perfect dialogue from the I Love Lucy show (the book is set in 1960). Hattie is convinced that no one understands him as well as she does: "I feel a little like Adam's baby-sitter, a little like his mother, not at all like his niece, and quite a bit like his friend." The author balances this friendship with another that Hattie, surprising her shy self, begins with a girl traveling with an itinerant carnival-Leila's father runs the Ferris wheel and her mother is the "Pretzel Woman" in the sideshow. Martin excels at evoking simply the intricacies of friendship, what it enables you to give to others, and what it teaches you about yourself. She also understands its perils. Trying to offer Adam the freedom and happiness she believes is wrongly denied him by his parents, Hattie relates to him as she would a fellow child-a mistake whose gravity becomes apparent in the book's terrifying climax. Told in the present tense in Hattie's personable voice, the story takes on serious concerns but has equally strong standing as the kind of novel kids mean when they ask for "a book about friends."--Horn Book Magazine, January, 2003--starred review

It is 1960, Hattie Owen is about to turn 12, and her world is about to be turned upside down. She loves her small town and the boarding house her parents run (enabling her father to pursue his art), in part because of the security and familiarity her surroundings represent. The boarders seem to be as much a part of the family as her grandparents, who live in a mansion and literally look down their noses at the Owens. But Hattie's perceptions of life in general--and her life in particular--change when 21-year-old Uncle Adam returns to town after his residential school closes. Adam seems to be manic-depressive, and he's a savant when it comes to dates. He's news to Hattie, but he mostly delights her, and she feels she can help him. His problems, however, are more than anyone--including Adam--can handle. The book's message--that people like Adam help "lift the corners of the universe" --is passionately offered, though perhaps too oft repeated. It is Martin's characters that shine, especially Hattie, who is trying to feel her way through family secrets, and Adam, whose valiant efforts to forge a life for himself are as uplifting as his failures are heartrending. The supporting characters are strong pillars that hold up the rest of the story, and their subtle depictions provide a depth that makes it much more than a "problem novel." This is a fully realized roller coaster of emotions, and readers take the ride right along with Hattie.--Booklist, December 2002--starred review

Martin (Belle Teal; the Baby-Sitters Club series) hints at a life-changing event from the first paragraph of this novel narrated by a perceptive and compassionate 12-year-old, and set in the summer of 1960. Hattie Owen had been anticipating a summer as comfortably uneventful as all the others ("I just want things all safe and familiar," she admits), helping her mother run their boarding house, painting alongside her artist father and reading "piles" of books. Then Uncle Adam (whom Hattie never knew existed) makes a surprise entrance, turning everything upside-down. Hattie's mother says that Uncle Adam has "

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Scholastic, Inc.
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Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitters Club series sold over 176 million copies and inspired a generation of young readers. Her novels include the Main Street series, BELLE TEAL, the Newbery Honor book A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE, HERE TODAY, A DOG'S LIFE, and ON CHRISTMAS EVE, as well as the much-loved collaborations P.S, LONGER LETTER LATER and SNAIL MAIL NO MORE with Paula Danziger, and THE DOLL PEOPLE and THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD, written with Laura Godwin and illustrated by Brian Selznick. She lives in upstate New York.

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A Corner of the Universe 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 162 reviews.
Brookeylynn More than 1 year ago
This is another book by Ann M. Martin that I read when I was in about 6th grade. It's really good and teaches you to love others even though they're different from you. Great young adult book!
CarolynAnneFogleman More than 1 year ago
This was a very emotional book, but not a Romance book. This book made a big impression on me, and really changed my outlook. It is the kind of book that will make readers everywhere not want to put it down. It is about a young girl, Addie trying to put up with her mentally challenged uncle. This was a amazing, fantastic, stupendous book. You will not regret reading this book. And as Addie said, "I think we should know that Adam was one of those people who lift the corners of our universe." I think we should all know, remember, and see the people who make a difference in the world. -Carolyn Fogleman Age 12
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is probably one of the best books I ever read, and sort of changed my view of things. Although towards the ending it is a bit sad, (you might even jerk a tear) but I recommend this book to everyone (even adults).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
so touching be ready to cry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As you meet Adam, a young man with a mental illness that no one understands, you relize the importance a smile. As you join Hattie and Adam you will fall in love with Adam and his corner of the universe!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am now seventeen and read this book for the first time when I was ten. When people ask me what my favorite book is, I still tell them A Corner of the Universe. I have never cried over a book before in my entire life but somehow this book can still bring me to tears even after reading it at least ten times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book! I loved it! sad and happy and very descriptive! read it! read it! read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ann M. Martin, author of A Corner of the Universe (Scholastic, Inc.; New York, NY; 2002) does an excellent job of bringing humor to the pages of this novel. It is just entertaining enough to capture and keep the reader¿s attention and interest. This book is easy to relate to and easy to read, especially on a rainy day. The diverse characters are easy to love and enjoy.

Hattie Owen is an only child whose parents own and run a boarding house in a small town with not much going on. Hattie lives a very unchanging life and likes it; she is best friends with all of their boarders: Mr. Penny, a retired clock-repairer with a room filled with coo-coo clocks; Miss Hagerty, a primped old woman who only allows Hattie to see her without her make-up on; and Angel Valentine, a young bachelorette with a mysterious boyfriend.

The summer Hattie turns 12, her whole world turns up-side-down.She finds out she has an uncle of whom she never even knew existed; he is her mother¿s brother and his name is Adam. Hattie can¿t figure out why her family, grandparents included, are acting so strange about Adam¿s return. When he finally comes into Hattie¿s little world, she realizes that he is different. His behavior is very odd; for example, he responds to serious situations inappropriately by giggling uncontrollably. Adam also comes up with lines from I Love Lucy for any situation at any time, and then he cracks up about it.

At first, Hattie doesn¿t really know what to think about her newly ¿discovered¿ uncle and his peculiar behavior. However, Hattie quickly falls in love with his fun-loving attitude and eccentric way of thinking. Furthermore, Adam just adores his niece Hattie and so eventually they are inseparable. Hattie tries to include Adam in on almost everything their family does, eventhough her family doesn't approve. After a while, she gets frustrated that no one can see Adam the same way she does. Everyone thinks she is just overreacting until one day, Adam ends up missing.

A Corner of the Universe is a perfect book for young adults that are ready to hang on to their seat. Martin¿s flavorful book of mental disorders and boarding houses is exciting, yet sentimental at the same time. The characters are easy to love and relate to. Uncle Adam¿s humor and spontaneity is worth every minute of reading this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anns books are usually very good, but whoa Adam hangs Himself? Thats a bit strong for a kids book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book if you guys want to chat with other ppl you should look up two two wat it will be the 2book over and if you have any questins about it you can say to pandagirl88 and yes i am a girl and i have blond hire and blue eyes and i am single boys
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was sad, but just plain amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PaperTurtless More than 1 year ago
I read this is in the sixth grade, and I fell in love with the characters in this book. This story is about a girl named Hattie (Harriet) Owen. All she knew in her life was that she only had one uncle and his name is Hayden. Turns out that she had a secret uncle named Adam and he was kept secret because of his illness. When he was 22, his school that he lived in which treats his illness closed down. This causes Adam to have to live with his parents (Who are Hattie's grandparents.) Hattie meets Adam and they instantly became friends. This book was so page turning that I finished it in a day. Literally couldn't put it down. I really recommend this book. It was very moving and inspirational. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was sad at some parts, but surprising at other parts. I did not like the sad parts. It was not the perfect book for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i got this book on class i thought it would be boring...WRONG this is probably one pf the greatest books ive read the plot is great the characters are exellent good review tp thos author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I already read this book at school but it is on if the best books i ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing book and really brings out what a good book requires, a little bit of humor , heart and love , and grief. This is definatly a book I would reccomend for younger readers. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will touch your heart from the very beggining i love this book!!i work at b and n and my boss had us al read this book bc she loved it!! And by the way staop giving spoilers!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kill me!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thus book is really touching and sad. I could relate to it. It is awesome. You go Ann.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BEST book ever you have to read it with your kids. If you get emotional have tissues on the last few chapters. I read it in school
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending was a complete surprise. This book taught me many life-long lessons that I will never forget. Its one of those books that you will always remember. The girl may relate to some of girls today. It was so full of meaning. Great read!