Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Vacation, written by Polly Horvath. Square Fish, Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $7.99 ages 10 and up
When Henry's mother suddenly picks up and leaves for Africa to do missionary work (and his father accompanies her), Henry is left to the care of his two maternal aunts, Pigg and Magnolia. Well, they are only maternal in that they are his mother's sisters. There really is nothing else that is 'maternal' about them. They arrive quickly, allowing Henry to complete his school year before they head out on the road in search of adventure:
"I WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH!" yelled Aunt Magnolia. And then she sat up and finished her dinner quite politely as if nothing had happened. Maybe she just had to get it out of her system. But no. It was not out of her system the next day, so to the beach we were going. All three of us, for an unspecified period of time."
So begins a summer journey that will take the three to Virginia Beach, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Mount Rushmore and finally, to Iowa. It's a strange, and occasionally exciting trek. There are some adventures along the way, including Henry's three days lost in a swamp with a child who has autism; a weird connection with extended family; one aunt finding her one true love on a ranch in Oklahoma; finally, a meeting with Henry's returning parents in Tulsa.
If you know Polly Horvath's writing, you will not surprised to meet these eccentric characters and read their unusual story. She makes the most remarkable situations seem quite commonplace. At the other end of the summer trek, Henry has learned something new that just might change his life's path and his ability to survive when faced with life's bumps in the road.
Always wise, and often very funny, Ms. Horvath does not disappoint. If you didn't read this story when it was first published, now it a great time to add it to your library shelf.