Jennifer Holm's fans will root for Lizzie Hawkins. RUTA SEPETYS, New York Times bestselling author of BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY, says: "A beautiful story of acceptance and determination. Lizzie Hawkins reminds us that in the mids of losing something precious we may find something equally important: ourselves."
It's been two months since Lizzie's daddy disappeared due to the awful Depression. Lizzie's praying he'll return to Bittersweet, Alabama, for her birthday. It won't feel special without him, what with Lizzie's Mama being so sad she won't even talk and the bank nipping at their heels for a mortgage payment.
Daddy expected her to be the best at any cost. But Lizzie claims "that cost me my top grades and my best friend. It's dumped 'em both square into Erin's hands. She's gone batty if she thinks she's gonna get me carted off to the orphanage."
While Lizzie waits, she gets comfort writing in her journal. As time passes, she can only picture her daddy's face by opening her locket. If others can get by, why did her daddy leave? If he doesn't return, how can she overcome the same obstacles that drove him away?
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
About the Author
LAURA GOLDEN loved listening to older generations spin tales about "the good ol' days." She was inspired to write this story based in part on her family history.
Read an Excerpt
I learned a lot from my daddy, but the number one most important thing is this: never, ever, under any circumstances, let something get the best of you. To do this, you gotta work with what you got, play the cards you been dealt, turn lemons into lemonade. Too bad he wasn't around to see me doing just that, because one thing's for sure: when it rains in the South, it pours.
The late-April thunderstorm that had occurred overnight made my walk to school particularly interesting. Plodding a mile through red mud in shoes a size too small with four holes too many ain't the easiest thing to try. With the depression on, I wasn't the only one with this problem, but I might've been the only one who knew how to make the best of it. I'd turn lemons into lemonade by using Mother Nature's mess as an excuse not to worry about Daddy. Or Mama. I'd only worry about the mud, and how to get more of it. Instead of trying to keep it off my shoes, I'd see how much I could pack onto them. At least the cardboard cutouts inside would keep the bottoms of my socks from staining.
About every fifteen yards the mud would reach its highest clumping point and fall off. Maybe lighter steps would help it last longer.
A gruff voice broke my concentration. "Hey, Lizzie, wait up!"
"I was starting to wonder what'd happened to you," I said without turning around so I wouldn't break my mud.
I'd have known that voice anywhere. Ben's voice. I'd known him practically since birth. We were born within days of each other, and our mothers had once been best friends. Ben was my one true friend. I learned that over three years back, at the tail end of third grade. Myra Robinson had dared me to go up to crazy old Mr. Reed's and knock on his door. And that wasn't the worst of it. She expected me to talk to him. Me. Talk to a man older than the hills who probably hadn't said a hundred words since I'd been born. I figured if he'd felt like talking, he'd have talked, and I didn't care to be the one forcing him to do it.
I might not have been so nervous if Mr. Reed had been like any regular man and gone into town a good bit, or if he'd have darkened the doors of the Bittersweet Baptist Church at least on Easter Sundays. But Mr. Reed wasn't any regular man. He never went to church, and he headed into town exactly twice a monthon the first and the fifteenth from one p.m. till three p.m. But Myra had to go and dare me at precisely 3:17 p.m. on the eighth of March in the year 1929. Dang. He'd be home.
Ben had put his hand on my shoulder. "I'll go with you, Lizzie. I ain't scared."
Myra, along with about ten other nosy bystanders, trailed us into town. We turned off Main onto Oak Street, then onto Mr. Reed's rutted dirt drive, which led directly to his house up on the hill behind town. I didn't know about Ben, but I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. We tiptoed over the junk in the front yardcracked mirrors, broken chairs, rusty pitchforks and hoesand onto the sagging front porch. Daddy said Mr. Reed had lived alone for close to fifty years. I knew two things for certain: the house hadn't had a fresh coat of paint in all that time, and anything that broke got thrown out in the yard, not in the trash. Ben and I faced the splintered wooden door. He looked at me and nodded. I knocked. Slowly, the door creaked open, and there stood Mr. Reed, all leathery and wrinkled and thin as a bone.
He looked at us like we were the crazy ones. "What you kids need?" he asked. His voice was as rough as sandpaper. He put a cigarette to his mouth and took a long suck off it. Ben and I stood there blinking. Neither one of us knew what to say. We didn't need anything, except to get the heck out of there.
Ben was the one to find words. "Sorry to trouble ya, Mr. Reed. I don't reckon we need much of anything. We'll just be goin'."
Mr. Reed nodded and closed the door, and Ben and I took off like our tails were on fire.
"Did you do it?" Myra asked at the bottom of the hill. "What'd he say?"
"Yeah, we did it," I said. "And if you want to know, you go ask him yourself."
All the bystanders went abuzz, and Ben and I walked away. I could still hear my heart pounding in my ears. I'd never been gladder to have Ben by my side than I was that day. We'd been extra close ever since.
Now Ben walked beside me, staring down at my mud-covered shoes. "Sorry I'm late. Had to help Ma make the beds and clean the kitchen on top of my regular chores. What in the heck are you doin'?"
"Is she sick?" I asked, ignoring his question.
"Naw, she ain't sick. She's real busy tryin' to get a wedding quilt finished for Mrs. Martin's daughter. Mrs. Martin told Ma she needed it done by this evenin', nearly a week sooner than it was supposed to be due. Said she'd misfigured the time it'd take the postal service to get it out west to her daughter. Put Ma in a real hard spot."
I shook my head and sank into some soft mud. The clumps on my shoes grew. "I guess all those boarders living with her put her mind in a tizzy. The last few times I've gone to pick up some mending, she's either been in a big hurry or snappy. Charlie told me he and John have to share their room with two other boys no more than five years old. If there was that many people crammed into my house, I'd probably have trouble thinking straight too."
Ben pulled a small rock from his pocket and placed it in his slingshot. Huge wads of mud covered my shoes. The weight nearly pulled them right off my feet. It was rather relaxing. Not up there with fishing or anything, but relaxing. Ben snapped his slingshot, and the rock smacked a pine.
"Why don't you teach me how to do that? Then we could have contests." I glanced over at him. "Contests I could win."
Ben pretended not to hear me. "I can't much blame Mrs. Martin either. A bunch of strangers stuffed in my house is the last thing I'd want."
I nudged Ben with my shoulder. "You're the one person who wouldn't wear me thin."
"No, Lizzie, I'm the only person you can't wear thin."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lizzie Hawkins' life is going way downhill. Her daddy left her, her mama won't do anything other than sit and stare, the bank is nagging for the mortgage on the house, and the pressure of having the best grades in school is killing her. Then, a spoiled brat named Erin comes in and tries her very hardest to make Lizzie go to the orphanage and her mother to a mental asylum. On top of that, Erin tries to snag Lizzie's best friend Ben. How is Lizzie supposed to handle all this stress? I liked this book quite a bit. Lizzie is a really likable character and almost all of her reactions are something along the lines of what i would do. Ben was also a good character, but he trusts a bit too easily. Each character has their own flaws and problems, which makes them all very well described. The book took place right after the Great Depression, and they described everything perfectly. The book did not have any unnecessary parts in the story, which is really good. Its written in first person, which is really nice. The flow was a bit tedious in the beginning, but evens out and becomes very well written. I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend this to teens ages 11-15.
I enjoyed reading this book. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was because the fighting between Lizzie and Erin really wore on me, especially when they did it right in front of adults. I know the author wanted to paint Erin in a bad light, but I can't believe she didn't have one ounce of good in her. Just seemed a bit much as times. But, otherwise great book!
If you like children's historical novels, check out this Depression-era story of a determined 12-year-old girl, Lizzie Hawkins, set in the particularly hard-bitten south. Lizzie's voice was in my head from page one, and never let go throughout. The book has an innocence to it, yet is full of the fire of its main character, as well as the grit of the unimaginably difficult situation facing her: holding her life together, and her mama’s, after her adored daddy—the family breadwinner—has left. You can bet situations like this were not uncommon at that time, which makes the book all the more poignant. This is real stuff, which according to the author’s bio, she gleaned firsthand from family elders who actually lived it. Lizzie is feisty and headstrong, admirable in her determination and resourcefulness, which makes her very likable—a good thing, as at times, she’s also downright annoying. And yet the author still manages to make her likable. We see Lizzie's flaws and witness the reasons her friendship with the lovely Ben begins to fall apart, while she blithely tells events the way she sees them—often very differently from the way we do, (except when it comes to the horrid Erin Sawyer). This dichotomy is hard enough for an author to pull off in a third-person narrative, IMO, but Laura Golden somehow manages to make us see Lizzie as she is, even though Lizzie herself is blind to the faults that keep leading her into hot water. Though Every Day After reflects a very specific time in history, it’s also woven with issues which are as relevant today as they were then: poverty, bullying (including an understanding of why this book’s bully is as she is), abandonment, mother-daughter role reversal (Lizzie having to fend for her mom, who’s become almost comatose with grief at the dad's departure). Yet for all the emotional weight in this book, it never becomes heavy, and for and all Lizzie’s flaws, one thing she can’t be accused of is being self-pitying, or dull, or pessimistic. Her courage had me rooting for her all the way. Which of us sees ourselves clearly? We like to think we do, which is precisely one of Lizzie’s flaws; but it’s only when realization dawns—as with any of us—that she’s able to make the most of her strengths and pull together a positive ending (without, however, being sappy; some circumstances don’t change, after all). Lizzie is a character who will inspire readers her own age to begin to look at themselves and find similar flaws—and, more importantly, gifts.