Erskine's debut juggles a number of hefty subjects and themes (religious faith, American patriotism, anti- and pro-war attitudes, bad parenting), but with mixed results. Fourteen-year-old Matilda ("Matt") believes that "life is safer alone." She has been unwillingly shuffled around distant family members' homes after being taken away from her abusive father, and is eventually sent to live with a Quaker couple, Jessica and Sam, and their disabled adopted son, Rory. Adjusting to her new life is tough, and sarcastic Matt doesn't make it any easier for her new, overprotective guardians. She's generally belligerent, dismissive of Rory and frequently antagonizes her pro-war World Civics teacher, whom she dubs Mr. Warhead (who "is so patriotic he is practically drooling red, white, and blue"). Amidst this "disaffected youth attempting to adjust to her new school and family" plotline, Erskine adds scenes involving Matt's introduction to Quakerism, a vicious school bully and the town's division over the war in the Middle East, but she doesn't always dig deep enough to flush out the questions that are raised. What happened to Matt's birth parents? Would a blatantly prowar teacher realistically be allowed to proselytize to his students in a public school setting? What does Matt really think about Quaker values? While thought-provoking at times, this story tries to cover a great deal of ground and might have fared better if the author focused on one or two main issues in greater depth. Ages 11-up. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Quakingby Kathryn Erskine
Goth girl Matt lives her life by simple rules: Stay under the radar, never go by Matilda (only Matt), and don't let anyone get too close. But everything changes when she moves in with a peaceful Quaker family in Pennsylvania. As the country fights a war in the Middle East, Matt fights her own personal war, battling bullies of her past and present and fighting
Goth girl Matt lives her life by simple rules: Stay under the radar, never go by Matilda (only Matt), and don't let anyone get too close. But everything changes when she moves in with a peaceful Quaker family in Pennsylvania. As the country fights a war in the Middle East, Matt fights her own personal war, battling bullies of her past and present and fighting to stand up for her belief in peace. Then violence erupts in town, and Matt finds that she will need to fight even harder to save the family she is starting to love.
Fourteen-year-old Matt, a survivor of family violence, has learned to withdraw, to make herself invisible to the Beasts of the world, and to run away from things she can't cope with. This notion is entirely counter to the philosophy of Sam and Jessica Fox, her latest foster parents, whose Quaker belief is to face the fire. Their caring and concern, both for Matt and for Rory, their other foster child, a severely disabled seven-year-old boy, begin to break down her resistance. As Matt is increasingly drawn into the family's life, she worries that Sam's peace activism puts him squarely in the path of a wave of violent vandalism in their community. Her own antiwar opinions about the Iraq conflict have led to trouble with a teacher, and she has drawn the attention of a school bully. The effect of this moving first-person story of a foster child slowly opening herself to family love is lessened by its heavy political message. The issues are interesting, the present-day Pennsylvania setting realistic, and the high school believable, but readers may find the picture of anti-pacifist violence (including a death at a demonstration in Washington) exaggerated.
Kathleen IsaacsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
Meet the Author
Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she’d rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading. She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools, her favorite being the Hogwarts-type castle in Scotland. The faculty, of course, did not consist of wizards, although . . . how did the headmistress know that it was “the wee redhead” who led the campaign to free the mice from the biology lab? Erskine draws on her childhood—and her second childhood through her children—for her stories. She still loves to travel but nowadays most trips tend to be local, such as basketball and tennis courts, occasional emergency room visits, and the natural food store for very healthy organic chocolate with “life saving” flavonoids.
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Quakaing is not your average book it is really sad but it really makes you want to keep reading it. Afterwards you will want to read more by this author but this is her best book.
my mom's roomie in college is the author of this book so its neat to have a connection. matt taking a journey that challenges her in life, has many battles to face, emotionally & physically. while dealing w/ a new family and simply trying to make it through school, matt is a relatable character to many teenagers such as myself who often feel alone & unwilling to take care from others. it's a poweful story & a must read for any teen!
At first I didn't know if i would like this book, but once I started reading I couldn't stop. I loved the syle of the writing and I was always intrested in Matt's emotional changes and conflicts.
Another Stap at Life. by Hingman.
I liked everything about this book
How can you not love a book that starts like this:
"Families come in all varieties but with no warranties. I have lived with first cousins twice removed, second cousins once removed, and now a third cousin who is removing herself. I call her Loopy. Because of her large earrings. And because she is insane.
Loopy drives like a ten-year-old car thief on a sugar high."
From the very beginning, Matt (not Mattie, and certainly not Matilda) has a chip on her shoulder. She's angry and cynical, and she has good reason to be. Loopy is about to dump her off at "the next hostile takeover."
"I finally found a second cousin of mine, but you need to make it work, Matt. This is the end of the line for you."
The end of the line is the home of Sam and Jessica Fox and their disabled foster son, the Blob. These aren't Matt's kind of people. For one thing, they're Quakers. They believe so strongly in peace that they don't even have the good sense to run and hide when bullies challenge them. They just stand there. That's what Sam calls it--taking a stand. As far as Matt can tell, it's just being plain stupid. Everyone knows you're supposed to run from bullies, and that's just what she intends to do if the Rat decides to make her the next Victim of bullying at her new school.
Kathryn Erskine never underestimates her readers as she allows this story to push the limits and tackle issues that most sweep under the rug when company is coming. I love Matt's sarcastic commentary on the state of the world as she faces the challenge of her own life. There is no doubt that this character is strong and capable--much like the writer who created her.
This is a book I'll keep on my shelf and come back to again and again.
Using staccato sentences devoid of contractions and narrated in present tense, Quaking evokes the kind of raw emotion akin to road rash on your heart. The main character, Matt, is a young teen who has been shuffled from home to home. She has developed a thick skin and a healthy sense of self-preservation, as well as a plan to run away to Canada. That changes when she meets Sam and Jessica, Quaker relatives who take her in and are determined to love her¿whether she allows them to or not. The story revolves around Matt¿s interaction between the Foxes and their handicapped foster son, Rory. It presents some interesting perspectives on the Iraqi war as well as the subject of bullying and domestic violence. The characters are treated with such a tender touch that it is difficult not to be sucked into their world and to hope that Matt will be all right. Even more amazing, is the way the main characters are able to portray meekness without even the slightest hint of weakness. This book would have some curricular ties to any history class that discusses conscientious objectors, or classes that deal with religion or diversity.