Length: 312 pages
Author: Marie Houzelle
Publisher: Summertime Publications Inc.
Publication Date: 9/15/14
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Tita is seven, and she wonders what’s wrong with her. Devout, yet curious, her fierce originality threatens to make her an outcast from the only world she knows- that of 1950’s southern France. As her small wine producing town vibrates to age-old rituals on the verge of slipping away, Tita finds refuge- and a future- in books.
Though Tita is only seven years old, she is smart beyond her years. She comes across as your typical child, picky about what she eats and she doesn’t like her teacher but her grasp of right and wrong shows she has an old soul. Tita lives in a rural town with her mother, father and siblings. The sense of family is strong in this story as even grandmother and stepsiblings arise from the parent’s complicated pasts. The reader can feel the strong love Tita has for her parents but struggles to understand her fathers business decisions and her mothers personal decisions. When Tita feels unhappy or upset, she escapes into books. The stories she loves the most are advanced coming of age characters that she feels she can relate to even at her young age.
Marie Houzelle does and excellent job writing in the narrative of a child. You get the feeling that the author lived this character. If you are looking for cute child perspectives in serious situations as Claire Cameron’s “The Bear” or Emma Donoghue’s “Room” you won’t find it here. Tita has a charming yet mature quality that kept me wanting to finish reading her story. I was concerned that the setting of the story in southern France in the 1950’s might be hard for me to follow. I found that this is not the case. The story deals with issues that are timeless and could be set anywhere. This story gave me hope for the children of our future. I hope there are many “Titas” in the world.
Reviewed by John Lee