POINTS: 3 out of 10.
Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point
I’ve read a lot of controversy about this book – some people think it’s way too sad for children, some people think it’s horrendously sappy, some people absolutely love it. It was never really a staple of my own childhood, so I don’t have that particular nostalgic connection to it, and if it moves me, it does so more as a mother myself than I think it would have as a child.
I was worried my rather sensitive kid would find it horribly sad, but actually, it turns out he’s fairly philosophical about death and the whole circle of life thing. We did end up having a conversation that went something like this:
“Mommy, when you get very old, you will die, right?”
“Yes, baby. At some stage I will die.”
“And I will miss you very much.”
“I know, baby.”
“But you’ll be old and I’ll be a grownup, so I’ll miss you, but it will be okay.”
That’s one old soul my kid is carrying around with him. ❤
As far as Bechdel and diversity go, this book gets nothing. No one has names, and everyone is white.
I’ll be honest, some of it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Not so much the death and circle of life stuff, and I definitely appreciate the “I love you always, no matter how much of a ratbag you are”, because that’s something C and I talk about a lot. But the thing where the Mom gets up in the middle of the night and takes a bus to her grown up child’s house, sneaks in and kisses him on the cheek while he’s sleeping? Yeah, um, that’s taking it too far. That’s some weird dysfunctional shit, yo. Cut the apron strings lady. You don’t need to violate your adult child’s boundaries to prove you love him.
I’m not completely on board with this book. I love the sentiment that a parent’s love lives on through generations, and I certainly love the concept that a parent should love their child always no matter how much they piss you off, and I certainly, as a parent myself, relate to that concept.
I’m also a fan of not shying away from hard topics with kids. They have to live in the world, and I think sometimes children need stories that address the hard stuff in the world.
But this book feels a bit heavy-handed to me. I know it is very beloved by a lot of people. But I don’t think it’s going to stay in our rotation.