Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

My mother-in-law introduced this book to me, and I must confess I hesitated a bit before starting.  (Two renewals from the public library!)  She showed it to me because I still read to my son who is 13 years old.  While my son and I don't have "The Streak" which the author and her father have, we do a pretty good job of settling down together every weeknight before bed.

I hesitated in beginning to read this because it did not seem there could be that much to say about two people reading together for over 3,000 nights.  It seemed a very thin premise with which to hang a full length memoir.  Really? I thought, what more can you say other than, "I have a great dad and he and I are committed to reading together every night until I go away to college. We have read hundreds of books together."

After seriously doubting what a young twenty-something girl could say about nightly reading with her father, I have to conclude it was a pretty interesting set of stories.  A coming of age look at a girl/young woman who was smart and pretty normal.  She wasn't on drugs or anorexic or a raging lunatic.  She was a just a precocious girl who made it through her parents divorce and a life of relatively little money by reading.  Yes,  almost every chapter was at least tangentially related to sitting down and reading with her father: a funeral for a pet, a car accident, reading on prom night, reading the day her mother moved out, how reading interferes with puberty, the last time the pair read before leaving for college, and the sad fate of a public school librarian among many other witty and sometimes sad stories.

Alice Ozma writes from the point of view of each age she is at, slowly maturing through the 9 years spanning the book.  At first it feels a little precious, syrupy, but as she grows and begins to tell of the darker side of her family life it becomes a richer and more interesting story.  Alice is a young writer.  She has just graduated from College and her stories did feel young in places.  I wonder if this memoir would change if she wrote it at age 50?  It will be interesting to see her grow and mature as a writer over the years.

I thank my MIL for pointing this book out for me and I look forward to more reader recommends.  If you have a young person in your house try making them a reading promise. Though I don't don't think most people will need it spelled out for them, Alice Ozma includes contracts for parents to sign to agree to read with their kids.  She also includes a bibliography of the books she and her dad read together.


Steph said...

What a great idea of a shared commitment!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I'll look for this one! MKP