Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quaking, by Kathryn Erskine

Matt (short for Matilda) has been passed from one relative to another, never quite working out wherever she's been. The experience has made her bitter and angry, but when she comes to live with the Fox family and learns their Quaker ways, she encounters a force that she had not counted on. And as a prejudiced teacher and a bully taunt her, she uncovers the inner strength to stand up for herself and stop being a victim.

For the most part, this is straight by-the-numbers finding-your-inner-self stuff. No major surprises and the bad guys are painted depressingly two-dimensionally. However, it is rewarding and mildly educational.

I was drawn to it by the Quaker stuff (since I am one). The setting in a Quaker family provided a lot of in-joke opportunities and I got a good laugh out of Matt's description of Meeting for Worship. Mostly, I forget that most people don't know this stuff (since I started attending at the age of 9, it was all second nature to me by my teen years). I was a bit concerned that the author would misrepresent Quakerism, but it was actually a fair and decent portrayal.

1 comment:

Kathy Erskine said...

Thanks, Paul, for reading Quaking and for your comments. I'm particularly glad you found it to be fair to Quakers. I was not raised a Quaker but started attending meeting several years ago and find it very comforting . . . inspiring . . . I'm not sure if I'm finding the right words, but I do like it. I also read a lot about Quakerism and spoke with Quakers because I wanted to be authentic -- I always do when I'm writing anything, but especially a sensitive topic like religion. You'll appreciate this -- one of my favorite stories is of my son's class (he attends a Quaker school) going to help at a homeless shelter and being asked to lead the prayer. The kids agreed and stood in silence while everyone else stared at them awkwardly, wondering when one of them would finally begin!