A friend of mine picked this one up for me at a library book sale. Support you local library, they can really use the support and you can find some great gems.
About the Book
The young heroine of Nora, Nora comes from a long line of angst-ridden adolescents, stretching back through Holden Caulfield and Frankie Addams to Huckleberry Finn. Yet Peyton McKenzie certainly has good reason to be unhappy. Her household, in the small Georgia town of Lytton, is shadowed by the deaths of her mother and older brother. Her father, meanwhile, has withdrawn into mournful distraction: "When Buddy died in an accident in his air-force trainer, when Peyton was five, Frazier McKenzie closed up shop on his laughter, anger, small foolishnesses, and large passions. Now, at twelve, Peyton could remember no other father than the cooled and static one she had."
To withstand this mortuary atmosphere -- not to mention a touch of small-town claustrophobia -- Peyton has founded the Losers Club, where she and two other misfits share their daily doses of unhappiness. But everything changes when her cousin Nora shows up for a visit. This jaunty outsider is unlike anybody else in Kennedy-era Lytton, circa 1961:
The first thing you noticed about Nora Findlay, Peyton thought, was that she gave off heat, a kind of sheen, like a wild animal, except that hers was not a dangerous ferality, but an aura of sleekness and high spirits. There was a padding, hip-shot prowl to her walk, and she moved her body as if she were totally unconscious of it, as if its suppleness and sinew were something she had lived with all her life.
At first Nora's high spirits have a tonic effect, jogging both Peyton and her father out of their torpor. But her involvement in racial politics eventually rubs some of Lytton's citizens the wrong way -- and puts her young cousin's loyalty to the test. Anne Rivers Siddons handles the narrative with a deft touch for local color (right down to the perpetual "three Coca-Colas in an old red metal ice chest"). But her feeling for her cast of characters is even better, mixing just the right proportions of delicacy and Southern discomfort. --Anita Urquhart
I don't even know where to begin with this book. The writing was excellent, the story was so good, the themes in the story were so important (and so well handled), and it was very enjoyable.
I loved Nora. She just didn't care, but at the same time she cared so much. I know that sounds weird but I don't know how else to describe her. She stood up for herself, and prided herself on simply enjoying life however it's handed to you. Peyton on the other hand was such the opposite. And while Nora had a huge impact on Peyton's life and the changes in Peyton were drastic Peyton will always be Peyton.
The story touches on so many different issues. First it takes place in the south in the 60s, so there's the racial issues. Then Peyton is in a place in her life where she needs the guidance of a woman, but Nora is so unconventional it is question whether her ideals should have influence on Peyton. I can't really give any more because it would take away from the web of the story.
The narrator did an excellent job. While I tend to think it would have been really hard to have a bad narration for such an amazing book Cristine McMurdo-Wallis did a really good job. She had such a dramatic voice and since Nora was such a dramatic person it fit perfectly together. Cristine's voice was just perfect for this one. She was very pleasant to listen to. She also did a great job of staying in character so you always knew who was talking.