Lenore is Cornelia’s mother—and Cornelia’s fix-up project. What does it matter that Cornelia won’t talk to anyone and is always stuck in the easiest English class at school, even though she’s read more books than anyone else? She feels strong in the fixing. She cooks vegetable soup so Lenore will eat something other than Ring Dings; she lures her out of bed with strong coffee and waffles. She looks after the house when Lenore won’t get out of bed at all.
So when Lenore and her boyfriend take off for Vegas leaving Cornelia behind with eccentric Aunt Agatha, all Cornelia can do is wait for her to come back. Aunt Agatha sure doesn’t want any fixing.
Maybe this time it’s Cornelia who could use it?
Fusco's first novel draws an incisive portrait of a bright and complex teenager who overcomes emotional and material impoverishment. Cornelia's aimless mother, bound for "Vegas" with her boyfriend, yanks her daughter out of ninth grade and drops her off at the broken-down, rural home of Agatha, a great-aunt whom Cornelia has never met. Arranged in brief vignettes, Cornelia's articulate, first-person narrative poignantly reveals the depth of her anger, fear and isolation: "Turning to stone is hard work," she thinks when told of her mother's plans. "First you have to let the anger climb up from deep within you and as it turns over and over and rises up through your chest, you have to clamp your teeth over it and push it back down." Embarrassed by her pronounced stutter, she remains mostly silent, a choice which relegates her to remedial classes instead of the honors English she craves. Much of the plot feels familiar: Agatha, also wounded and an outcast, and Cornelia slowly help each other address their private pain and find new strength. But although the prose is occasionally laden with heavy-handed imagery, it is more typically sinuous and lithe, powerfully conveying a range of heartrendingly real emotions. Ages 12-up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
It's cute but gets a little bit repetitive
Just another story about a teenage girl having some issues with a relative.
Agatha Thornhill and Cornelia Thornhill don't start off so well. To Cornelia, Agatha is some crazy lady who seems to have a passion for fiddleheads and gardening. Her house is a wreck and everything seemed so out of place but Cornelia couldn't say much. She felt alone and all she thinks about are picture perfect moments she desired to have with her mother. Her neglected life left Cornelia feeling lost and she no longer has any idea on who she is. Cornelia later realizes Agatha has her own reasons. As Cornelia opens her eyes and discovers Agatha's past, their worlds turned upside down and nothing was the same again.
Cornelia was known for stuttering because she feels nervous when she speaks but it gets a little bit annoying after a while. Reading aloud was actually kind of amusing when it came to Agatha's and Cornelia's dialogue!