I hadn't expected it to take me a week and a half to finish my first book of the year, but then again, I guess I'm not really surprised either. As usual, I just have too many books going at once. Anyway, I am so very pleased that Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay was the first book I finished...I'm pretending I believe in "signs" and this is a sure sign of a wonderful year of reading ahead. It also qualifies as my first read for Ana's and Iris's Long-Awaited Reads Month. (Or in my case, Long-Awaited Reads that are All Ana's Fault Month.) :D
Okay, Saffy's Angel. *hugs book tenderly and fiercely all at the same time*
It is the story of the Casson family, a family who most definitely lives life on their own terms. I'm not sure if anyone else would agree with this comparison, but I was strongly reminded of Francesca Lia Block's writing. Or really, I guess I mean her characters, at least from the Weetzie Bat books. Both Block's and McKay's characters have this utterly refreshing quality to them--they are quirky and odd, they are unique and delightful, they are so positively themselves. And I love them to pieces.
Eve and Bill, parents, artists. Caddy, the oldest daughter, loves animals, believes she will never pass any exam she ever takes, and is quite infatuated with her driving instructor. Saffy, next oldest daughter, feels somewhat out of place and lonely. Indigo, next oldest and the only boy in the family, an inventive cook, loves "his pack" (aka his sisters) fiercely, and works hard to conquer his fears. And Rose, the youngest daughter, bold, fearless, and a budding artist herself.
At the beginning of the book, Saffy discovers that Eve is not her "real" mother, but her aunt, and her siblings are her cousins. (Her mother died when she was just three, and her grandfather brought her from Italy to come live with the Cassons in England.) While she is every bit as much a sibling as any of the others in the minds of Caddy and Indigo and Rose, she finds herself feeling as if she somehow doesn't belong. The book tells the story of Saffy's search for her angel, a stone angel from her Italian garden that her grandfather left to her when she died, but no one knows where it is. But it really tells the story of Saffy's search for her place in the world, her place in the family.
This is not a heavy, soul-searching tale though. It is light and so utterly charming, it is laugh out loud funny, and it has more heart than one might imagine could be stuffed into 215 pages. Saying that I loved it feels like such an understatement.
With this book alone, I can most definitely declare Long-Awaited Reads Month a success for me! Ahhh, but so many more books still to come...