Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin has one of the most complicated and difficult to remember titles of any book I've come across in a long time. It is title worth trying to remember though as it is a wonderful heartwarming story of friendship and community and the magic in everyday life.

The story follows the lives of the citizens on Orange Street over the course of a day and a half and centers on the vacant lot with the lone standing orange tree where the children play. The third person narrative switches perspective between three 9 year old girls, one 11 year old boy, an elderly woman who has lived on Orange Street her entire life, the mysterious man, and even the orange tree. Ali is dealing with how his sickness has changed her brother. Leandra is trying to reconcile herself to the arrival of a new sister. Bunny is overcome with fears and worry over her mother's business traveling. Robert is trying to deal with his parents divorce and impress Ali so that she will be more like she used to be. Ms. Snoops is forgetting more and more as each day goes by but is comforted watching the children play in the vacant lot near her home. All of these stories are linked through the relationships of the people involved and the events in one day and one morning on their street involving the mysterious man and an equally mysterious orange cone that appears in front of the vacant lot.

There are a lot of characters and events here and yet I never got them confused or mixed up. Each of the girls, who would have been the easiest confuse, has a distinct personality and different family dynamic. All of the events form each character's personality and are woven together into one beautiful narrative thread. Rocklin managed do to all of this in 200 pages. The story is full and rich and not at all bloated. In a time where so many MG novels are hitting the 350-400 page mark, I lift my hat to Rocklin for this. What I enjoyed most about the book was the emphasis on community in all its variations, family, friends, neighbors and how what we do affects the people we are in community with. There were times when this theme was a little loud and felt like it was being hammered at which is my one and only quibble with the book in general.

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