professornana (professornana) wrote,

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a life well lived

While I was waiting for my better half to have his day after cataract surgery check up, I managed to fall in love once again with the incredible Cynthia Rylant. LUDIE'S LIFE is her latest offering: a novel in verse about the lifespan of a woman who lived a quiet life in a coal-mining town in West Virginia. Ludie married early, mostly to escape from her home and the stepmother who pushed her aside. However, Ludie loved Rupe. The two of them made a home for themselves and their six children. Ludie stayed home and reared children and even grandchildren, watched as members of her family passed away and finally joined her beloved Rupe at the end of her life.

What sets this novel in verse apart from other stories is that, though Ludie believes her life to be ordinary, she is in fact an extraordinary woman. Though told in third person, Ludie's character is so defined and so real that one mourns her losses and rejoices in her small victories. It is the very ordinary events of her life that connect Ludie to the reader who watches as she prepares breakfast, fusses about her house always looking its best, and rears her children with discipline and love.

This slim novel is absorbing. I read from page to page unwilling to put it aside at all. I will be curious to see how younger readers relate to this novel. Will they see the bittersweetness and poignancy that are hallmarks of Rylant's works? Will they care as much as I do about an ordinary life lived well? Teachers will marvel at the skilled use of this format in the hands of the multi-talented Rylant.


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