Friday, March 22, 2019

The Winds of March by Lenora Mattingly Weber #1965Club

The 1965 Club is a meme in which two prolific bloggers, Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings, promote a specific year of published books. Anyone can join in by reading and reviewing a book published in 1965 and adding a link to that book's review in the comments on Simon's blog.  1944,19681951,1977 have also been promoted. 
Title: The Winds of March: A Katie Rose Story
Publication: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, hardcover, 1965
Genre: YA series

Plot: Katie Rose is the 16-year-old daughter of a large Irish family and is acutely aware of her family’s financial struggle.   She hates that her widowed mother supports the family by singing in a nightclub.   She is mortified by second hand clothes and yearns for slice-and-bake cookies instead of having to adapt recipes to use the leaky (but free) eggs and other products her relatives bring to Denver from their farm. In this second in the series, Katie Rose has a boyfriend her readers appreciate more than she does and continues to yearn for “Pretty Boy” Bruce Seerie.   When Bruce gets suspended from the basketball team for his grades, Katie Rose seizes her chance to offer assistance, like all smart lit-types with a crush.  But no one appreciates a know-it-all and it is her exuberant younger sister Stacy, also a hoopster, who captures Bruce’s attention. 

Jeanie, who is an even better (in the sense of more useful) best friend than Tacy Kelly (perhaps because of having more experience with boys), tries to convince Katie Rose that Bruce is pleasant though nothing special but Katie Rose thinks the only way to save face is by getting a big part in the school musical.   Unfortunately, although Katie Rose is talented, the director follows the Abbey Theatre's system of casting that ensure no one gets a star part in every show (so why does waif-like Zoe always gets the lead?) so Katie Rose is humiliated by a dancing part with no lines. 
Even worse, when Katie Rose tries to escape her perceived shame by leaving town, she is sidetracked by Beany Malone’s brother (once a heartthrob in his own right), who needs a babysitter, an evening that turns into a nightmare.   You can never lick your wounds in privacy in a Weber book!
Lenora Mattingly Weber
Audience: Current and former teens; fans of classic Malt Shop fiction

Weather: March is very prominent in this book, which may be one reason I chose to reread it today.  The characters are eager for spring to arrive; Katie Rose shivers in the chilly wind in her coat, and everyone keeps reminding each other that March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.   A perfect reread for a blustery day!

My Impressions: Weber’s Beany Malone series (Beany and her friend Miggs also appear in this book) is better known than Katie Rose due to many fans/reprints but the Belford family is nearly as entertaining as the Malones. There are five Katie Rose books and three about her sister Stacy.  Katie Rose is not at her best in this entry, alas.   Of course, it is understandable that after crushing so long on Bruce, however irrationally, she is bitter when he falls for her younger sister.  What is hard to understand is how little she appreciates Miguel, who is smart, funny, thoughtful, and fits into her family.  The description of Katie Rose’s tryout for the high school musical and the way she checks out the call board is to vivid and so painful – anyone who ever tried out for a play will wince in sympathy as Katie Rose fails to find her name listed for a part.  It takes a real crisis to make Katie Rose realize that her insecurity caused her to brag in a way that was a turn off to everyone except loyal Jeanie. 

My mother and I always thought that Weber moved on to a new family/series not only because Beany had been married off but also that the issues that Beany dealt with were already dated by the 60s, and she recognized that YA books were evolving.  Having been widowed herself with a large family, Weber knew the stresses of being a single parent.  The Belfords’ financial situation is more acute than the Malones, who worry about feeding a horse and buying formals (not that there’s anything wrong with such pursuits).   Mrs. Belford can barely afford groceries (although I always thought she shouldn’t have been too proud to take an allowance from her affluent father-in-law) and her daughters have to deal with babysitting gigs that turn into kidnapping or groping by the parent providing the ride home, drugs, adultery, and Vietnam.   Some people think Katie Rose whines too much but I think, like all of Weber’s heroines, she is delightfully human.
Source: Personal copy.  Mine is an ex-library book but Image Cascade has since reprinted all the Malone and Belford books, and I recommend them.   Start with Don’t Call Me Katie Rose or Meet the Malones.

Off the Blog: March Madness!   Harvard beat Georgetown in the first round of the NIT last night and Duke plays tomorrow in the NCAA first round.

* Photo of LMW copyright to Image Cascade

1 comment:

Dixie Lee said...

I was so excited when this book came out. I think of Katie Rose every windy March day, and when I use sour cream to bake.....