When we found out that the publisher was sending us Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick, Amanda immediately asked, “What book are they reading in it?” and declared, “While we’re waiting to get it, we should read that book, so that we’ll understand it better.”
This is one of the wonderful parts of this series which focuses on a group of girls who are in a bookclub with their mothers. In each book, the girls read a classic work of literature and discuss it. Amanda knew this, and had enjoyed reading Anne of Green Gables after reading Much Ado About Anne (linked to my 5-Star Review).
In this third year of the bookclub, the girls are in the 8th grade. Jess is sent to a nearby boarding school by a benefactor, much as Jerusha Abbot is in Daddy Long Legs (linked to mine and Amanda’s thoughts on it). There are changes for the others too, including a grandmother moving in, a new baby on the way, and a mother who is transforming herself to a “whole new me.”
Since they are getting older, the subject of boys comes up more often, as well as a little adolescent defiance. But since this is one of those books that is written more like classic teen fare (as opposed to much more explicit edgy YA fiction), it’s all handled in a way that is totally appropriate for my 6th grader to read.
I’ve heard that there will be two more books in the series, and I can’t wait to see how the girls grow up, and how my own bookworm grows up with them. One of the reasons that I love this series so much is that they present the viewpoint of the mothers and the daughters equally well. The mothers see the daughters through their own motherly lenses, while the daughters keep fighting to be who they want to be. But the daughters see the mothers in their own way as well: at first only as “Mom,” but generally in each book there is something that reveals that “Mom” is a woman too, with experiences and feelings that drive her actions. These books are truly unique, and because of this, they are truly enjoyable and enlightening for both mothers and daughters to read.
If you can’t tell, Jennifer Donovan is a fan of the Mother-Daughter Bookclub books. Read more about her read-aloud experience of the first book in the series at her blog Snapshot.