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Mary Ann Alice

by Brian Doyle

Published by A Groundwood Book / Douglas & McIntyre, 2002
166 pages
ISBN: 0-88899-453-2

Ages 10 - 14

Twelve-year-old Mary Ann Alice McCrank is an aspiring poet who is waiting for just the right moment for her first kiss, with Mickey McGuire, Jr. She'll know the moment when it arrives. In the meantime, life in her small Quebec town of Low in the 1920s is about to change forever. A power company and the government are building a dam that will flood much of the farmland and destroy some family's homes. And they have no plan to compensate the families if they can avoid it. "It's the beginning of the end!" cries store owner Mr. McLaughlan when the blasting starts, and in some ways it is. Mary Ann Alice sees a whole town go up near the dam site in two weeks. Among the many workers are boys from her school, and men from across eastern Canada. Her beloved teacher, Patchy Drizzle, who has shared his love of rocks and fossils and with Mary Ann Alice, works as a consultant on the geology of their valley. And Mary Ann Alice herself serves food in one of three great mess halls for the workers. Brian Doyle's story is told from the point of view of a bright, funny, spirited girl who is both witness to and participant in a period of great change in her community, and great change in individual lives. It features a deft blend of character-driven and situational humor, straight-from-the-heart honesty ("My mother never tells me that I'm beautiful. She says it's what's in your heart and in your head that counts and all the rest is nonsense."), and poignant truths about human frailty and resilience. The people of Low are powerless to stop the forces of the government and corporate interests. But the people of Low–memorable, quirky, moving–are survivors, too, as readers of this lively novel set in the same small town as Up to Low and Uncle Ronald, two of Doyle's previous novels, will discover. CCBC Categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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