Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Brenda Ashworth Barry - The Journey of Elizabeth Ann Rose

Elizabeth Ann Rose calls the Indian reservation in southern California home, and is upset and angry when she and her family must leave and travel the road again while her daddy plays in his band and tries to become famous.
She and her family live out of an old beat up station wagon traveling from one city to another. Sometimes, living in dirty old hotel rooms where mice and cockroaches are their only pets.
When Beth Ann turns eleven she finds more than chocolate cake being served. Her mom serves her daddy divorce papers, takes her three children and heads out to begin a new life. In one short summer, Beth Ann’s life completely changes, and she ends up in Novata, a small Northern California town. The very town that will change her life forever.

Comment: I was recommended this book by a friend, as we often share recommendations when we see something we might like to buddy read. Sometimes, it's the plot, sometimes it's the theme and in this book's case I think it was the possibility of a rewarding journey for the heroine and how much she would grow up as the story moved along. Sadly, neither of us properly investigated the fact that, despite this being part of a series, the time line isn't as easy as this following events from book #2 and so on.

In this book we meet 9 year old Elizabeth Ann Rose who, as the story begins, is terribly sad she is leaving the Indian reservation where her family has been living. She is even sadder she is leaving her beloved dog friend and the people she came to love while they lived there. Now her parents are traveling west, as her father is looking for fame and fortune. Things change when her mother finally gives up and demands a steadier life. When that doesn't happen, she asks for divorce and, eventually, she and the children end up in a city in California. That is where Elizabeth Ann Rose's life truly begins, especially because she meets people who will influence her life forever...

What I wrote above is what the blurb made me think this story would be about. I confess when I read some words, my mind automatically thought of those old westerns where life was hard but dedication and friendships could make a difference and, in that regard, I must agree this author's style is like going back in time, if one thinks about how old school stories were told.

The setting, however, is the 1930s with all the hardships and war issues that we can also associate with it. Personally, this didn't make any difference to me, because my dislike of the book was related to another issue but the author included enough information so the reader could imagine the setting and the atmosphere those people were living in at the time. For me, nothing too heavy to deal with, as I sort of expected the book would have such details.

Anyway, back to why I disliked this book... I'll have to say it was all about the content. When the story begins, it pretty much follows what the blurb suggests. Here was a young girl, whose journey would be both physical and emotional, I imagined, about to leave what was familiar to her to embark on the unknown...she was leaving the Indian reservation so this would not really be about how to manage different cultures and such. The family never stayed too long, so this would also not be about what kind of experiences Elizabeth would have on the road.

When she finally starts living in the California city where the family settles in, I was already a little bored, to be honest, for the vibe of the story wasn't what I thought it would be (about facing and overcoming obstacles while gaining wisdom) but about what kind of people Elizabeth met as a child and as a teenager and who her friends were and - it seemed - countless pages of boyfriend doubts and whose boy she liked best and why the one she liked didn't like her the same and so on until all the chapters started to feel repetitive and focused on things that might sound simple and suitable to the protagonist's age but which bored me to no end.

At some point, I checked GR for more information on the series and there are more books where these characters - older, apparently - are protagonists too and face other stages in life, other situations. I was a little confused about the time line of the series and other things, but the conclusion I got is that this is just a moment in the life of these characters and it happens to be while they are young. Sure, not a problem, but had I done more research I might not have read the book.

I kept reading, hoping some kind of lesson were to be shared, some kind of novelty in the life of the main characters or some evolution on what their emotions were but it all felt the same to me until the end. Still, I thought some emotional change could happen but not even that...I was also surprised by how much innuendo and sexual connotations and behavior was addressed, considering the time and the age of the characters. I must say I was quite disappointed in the author by how she portrayed young girls in this book...I wouldn't say this book is about innocence at all, but that's just a POV.

It's one of those things...I see why it might have worked for many readers but it just wasn't for me. I only liked the beginning but the majority of the time I just felt disappointment, so...
Grade: 2/10

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