Samantha StanleyA Corner of the Universe

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by Ann M. Martin

Bibliographic Data:Title: A Corner of the UniverseAuthor: Ann M. MartinGrade Level: 9-12 YearsISBN: 9780439388818Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.Pages: 208 pagesPublication Date: 1/1/04Awards: 2003 Newbury Honor Book

Summary:
The book A Corner of the Universe is about a girl named Hattie who is turning 12 and decides to spend her summer in her hometown where her parents run a boarding house. Her life is predictable until it completely changes when her uncle Adam returns home for the first time in over ten years. Hattie is intrigued to find out who exactly Adam is because she had never met him. Adam had been institutionalized from schizophrenia and autism in a school not in Hattie’s hometown. She tended to be a shy little girl who would rather talk to the adults that boarded at her house. Hattie quickly realizes that Adam’s mental illness makes his conversations interesting to listen to and is convinced that no one understands him quite like she does. She feels more like Adam’s babysitter than his niece but also as a friend. Hattie’s parents and grandparents have a hard time dealing with Adam’s way of seeing the world. This summer turns into one of Hattie’s best summers at home when she meets Uncle Adam and befriends a girl who works at the carnival that comes into town.

Book Review:
I think Ann M. Martin does an excellent job at bringing humor into an already emotional book. It’s a book that you can’t put down because it’s easy to read and the diverse characters are easy to love. When I first read this book when I was younger, the cover of the book drew me to read it. I thought that it was going to be a book about a carnival but it ended up being about so much more. I think it shows how simple a child’s mind is to opening their heart up to just about anyone. The friendship that develops between Hattie and Uncle Adam warms your heart. This book shows you how quickly one thing can change your world but it also shows you how it can change for the better. Children that read this book realize that its okay to be different.

Author Bio:
Ann M. Martin was born in Princeton, New Jersey on August 12, 1955. She attended Smith College. Martin was first a teacher then an editor for children’s books and now she is a full time writer. She writes children’s books and young adult fiction. She writes based on many different things including contemporary problems. Martin’s most well known pieces are the series The Baby-sitters Club that started in 1986. After finishing that series, she decided to concentrate on single novels. At this time she wrote A Corner of the Universe, which won the Newbury Honor in 2003. In 1990, she created the Ann M. Martin Foundation, which provides grants.

Literary Analysis:
An important element to this novel is how the author set up the plot development. The protagonists in this book are Hattie Owen and Adam Mercer. The entire book is in Hattie’s point of view. When her uncle Adam came to stay with her for the summer, it changed her whole life. She was able to learn and grow with him. She accepted him like no other person did around her. An important part of the book is when Adam said to Hattie that she was one of the people that could “life the corners of our universe.” Hattie soon found out that he meant “it’s all about changing what’s handed to you, about poking around a little, lifting the corners, seeing what’s underneath, poking that. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t, but at least you’re exploring. And life is always more interesting that way.” (189) Hattie’s Nana, Adam’s mom, was very clean cut and liked everything perfect around her. She didn’t like anything that was out of the ordinary, different. Adam was different and she was never really able to accept that. That is where the conflict comes into the story. Hattie is used to struggling with that world Nana created around her. She never really understood it until Adam came to town. Nana wanted everyone to meet her expectations.
The climax of this book could be Adam’s death and his funeral. Hattie wears a yellow dress to his funeral because Adam really liked that color and it meant happiness to him. After the funeral, Nana and Hattie were sitting in Adam’s room. At this moment they find letters and gifts that Hattie’s mom sent to Adam over the years when he was at his school. Nana realizes how much Adam meant to Hattie and how much she grew up over the summer. Nana knows that the world that she created no longer works and recognizes the mistakes she made with Adam and her family.
Additional Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Corner_of_the_Universe