Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Review: Anastasia at This Address by Lois Lowry (1991)

Though Anastasia has sworn off boys, she can’t help but reply to a personal ad placed in the newspaper by a 28-year-old man. In attempting to conceal her true age, Anastasia writes a series of letters filled with lies, pretending to the older man that she owns a sloop and knows about managing stock portfolios, and trying to pass of her own mother’s photograph as her own. When unforeseen circumstances bring Anastasia and the unsuspecting gentleman face to face, Anastasia realizes she has made a fool of herself and brings the whole imagined affair to an apologetic conclusion.

What I like most about this book is its innocence. In today’s world, most adults are horrified at the thought of young girls corresponding with older men because of all the stories we hear in the news about abductions and sexual abuse. In this story, though, Anastasia is always aware that she is out of her league, and the man in question is never presented as anything more than a normal, everyday guy who is briefly duped by the writing skills of a 13-year-old. While I suppose there is a place for the cautionary tale in the world of children’s and YA literature, I was glad to find that this was not one, and that the story was just another funny scenario in Anastasia’s never-ending series of fiascos.

I also really like the way Lowry handles coincidence in this book. Of course it is unlikely that Anastasia and a random man she reads about in the newspaper would ever meet, but Lowry sets up the man’s backstory in such a way that it makes perfect sense for them to run into each other at a wedding. I also love the awkwardness Anastasia creates for her mother, who never does find out why that strange man kept looking at her all through the wedding.

It’s amazing how consistently good these books are. Though Lowry has won the Newbery twice for more serious books, the writing in these funny episodes is every bit as good and certainly more appealing to a wider audience.

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