The Canning Season
Polly Horvath (Young Adult Fiction)
Thirteen-year old Ratchet Clark (her father wanted to name her Stinko) lives with her mother, Henriette, who dreams of belonging to the Pensacola Hunt Club (“Thank God for the Hunt Club” is the mantra in their household). Henriette works two jobs, sustains the family on Cheerios, and constantly reminds her daughter to cover up That Thing on her shoulder (it is unsightly). Life moves along at a predictable pace until the day that Henriette sends Ratchet to live with her two great aunts in Maine. Tilly and Penpen Menuto (DON’T call them the Blueberry Ladies!) are twins, but as different as chalk and cheese. Tilly is tiny and thin and Penpen is round and jolly, but both are as devoted to canning as they are to one another. Between blueberries, bears, a one-way phone, an unexpected orphan, and countless stories of a headless mother, Ratchet’s summer will prove to be anything but predictable.
The Canning Season is a delightful, entertaining, and hilarious romp. Fans of Philip Gulley or Ann B. Ross will find equal enjoyment in the Menuto sisters and their tales of loggers, love, and the lure of the woods. Some of the language in this book is a bit salty, but is appropriate to the targeted age (13 and older) and shouldn’t shock anyone who watches PG-13 films or hangs out at the local mall.
Throughout the book, we see Henriette placing an unhealthy importance on belonging to the Pensacola Hunt Club, which remains an elusive aspiration. We find out that the club really isn’t as exclusive as first thought and, in reality, is open to anyone wanting to join. Drawing a nice parallel with Tilly and Penpen’s home, we see that the ominous house on the hill surrounded by bear-infested woods isn’t really what it appears to be either. It is actually warm, welcoming, and inclusive; all who enter are taken care of and treated with respect, kindness, and love (except Myrtle Trout…Heaven help her). The Canning Season reminds us that things are not often what they seem and that love is often found in the least likely of places. Thank God for the Hunt Club, indeed.
* Book cover image attributed to http://www.goodreads.com