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Ferris Beach (1990)

de Jill McCorkle

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1914109,281 (3.85)4
Ferris Beach is where excitement and glamour start--at least that's what Kate thinks as she hears about her cousin Angela who lives there. Kate has had a humdrum, "normal" childhood; her conservative mother and humorous father have brought her up "properly," while Angela has had freedom and romance. But even freedom has its dark side, as Kate finds out.… (més)
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Have you ever had a book sit unread on your shelf for years and years and years for no good reason at all? If you saw my basement to be read shelves, you'd know that this is not an unusual thing for me. But when the publisher reissues it twenty years after you first bought it, sends you a new advanced copy, and you still don't get to it, that's a bit excessive. And yet, even then I didn't pick it right up, waiting through a friend's occasional gushing references and having read and enjoyed other newer books by the author for another 5 years or so. But for every book there is a season, right? And I've finally gotten to this one's. Jill McCorkle's Ferris Beach may be twenty-five years old but it easily holds up to a reading today.

Mary Katherine Burns is nine when split level homes are built across the street from her own historically significant house. Katie is an only child and generally alone so she is thrilled to discover that a girl her own age is moving in across the street. Misty and her glamorous, unconventional mother Mo are a whole different breed of people from Katie and her mother Cleva. As Katie and Misty become best friends, Katie is drawn into the intriguing life she sees being lived across from her. The only outrageous and unusual thing in her own life is Cousin Angela, the cousin who wafts in and out of the Burns' lives, disapproved of by Cleva and sometimes secretly, sometimes publicly abetted by Katie's beloved father Fred. Katie is a watchful girl and as she grows, she learns to see that the facade we present to others is just that, a facade. Her greatest desire is a more glamorous life but when something big and irreversible happens one July 4th, she sees beyond her childish romanticized view of others' lives to the turmoil and unhappiness beneath. It is a lesson she won't forget as she continues to see snatches of bald realism that alter the superficial view, especially with Merle, the boy who once tormented her, and Perry, the beautiful, victimized girl who was to marry Merle's brother.

Katie is awkward and embarrassed as only a shy girl can be. Her world is safe and circumscribed but it cannot stay that way, because life is not safe and circumscribed. Secrets have a way of being exposed, surfacing unwelcomed and unwanted; truth and honesty win out. McCorkle does the small moments, the everyday, interrupted by unusual upheaval so well. She beautifully captures the minutia that makes up our days. But she also captures the ruptures and chasms that spin us around to face another way entirely. Her characters are people we all know. The 1970s small Southern town setting is exquisitely rendered and her characters are true to the time period in both their reactions and beliefs. The malapropisms in one character's speech are hilarious, adding some poignancy but also levity to a story filled with the small and large tragedies of regular life. The pacing is slow, deliberate, and contemplative. It is a coming of age story paced at life's own measure. Like an exquisitely rendered miniature rather than a huge sweeping canvas, attention to detail is everything here. Ferris Beach is definitely more for people who enjoy and appreciate character driven stories than those who want a cracking, fast-paced plot to follow. ( )
  whitreidtan | Oct 31, 2015 |
Nice coming of age book. Some passages could have been edited more thoroughly, but overall the book was a joy to read. ( )
  leahsophia | Feb 25, 2014 |
Jill McCorkle has this uncanny ability to delve deep into the mindset of each and every one of her characters. For this reason, her writing is some of the most relatable and realistic I've encountered. She also writes about the South. And for these reasons...I looooooove her!

My latest of McCorkle reads is Ferris Beach, the story of Mary Katherine "Kitty" Burns growing up in 1970s North Carolina. Kate is the only child of two middle-aged parents, Cleva and Frank, that she finds mismatched, liking them to Jack Sprat and his wife. Life at the Burns house holds little excitement for Kate, save the occasional appearance of her older cousin Angela who blows in from the nearby Ferris Beach and seems to always bring with her a storm. Kate equates Angela and Ferris Beach with everything her own life lacks—glamour, excitement, sophistication—but her imagination masks the underlying tension between Angela and Cleva that Kate won't discover until she's older and the glitter has faded.

When Misty Rhodes moves from Ferris Beach into the new housing development across from the Burns' house, Kate finds a best friend whose life is practically the exact opposite of her own. Misty is bold, fun, and vivacious with an eccentric mother, Mo, that contrasts Kate's reserved and practical one. Kate depends on Misty for excitement. No one else has forced Kate out of her comfort zone, into a world and mentality that extends beyond their small neighborhood. They live in a world of childhood and adolescent dreams until a sudden event one Fourth of July forces them to grow up fast.

So much happens in Ferris Beach that it's kind of hard to review. It's a coming-of-age story; it's the portrait of a character; it's a look at her environment; it's a snapshot of the times. It pinpoints the awkwardness and constant yearning that comes with adolescence. It's simple but complicated by its characters, who are raw with real interactions and relationships in which history and class sometimes play a role. Kate is a bit of a passive character. Some may find her boring, but I found her incredibly relatable when you look back on those teen years. It's like when you sometimes feel so awkward, like you just don't fit in anywhere, that it's better to stand back and watch than risk active participation.

And the setting is great. Avocado-colored appliances and shag carpet were before my time, but it made me want to hop in a car and drive home where I can lay on the ground under the trees, look up through the branches, and be completely alone with my thoughts. ( )
1 vota kari1016 | Jan 22, 2010 |
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Ferris Beach is where excitement and glamour start--at least that's what Kate thinks as she hears about her cousin Angela who lives there. Kate has had a humdrum, "normal" childhood; her conservative mother and humorous father have brought her up "properly," while Angela has had freedom and romance. But even freedom has its dark side, as Kate finds out.

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