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Strong for Potatoes

de Cynthia Thayer

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833260,425 (3.34)1
Cynthia Thayer's acclaimed debut novel, Strong for Potatoes, is the resonant story of the difficult youth of Blue Willoughby, a remarkable girl growing up in eastern Maine. In a life beset by tragedy, beginning with the death of her twin sister Berry only days after their birth, Blue must discover on her own strength she needs to survive. Blue's true ally is her grandfather, a full-blooded Passamoquoddy Indian who teaches Blue life's most vital lessons: that the ways of nature can illuminate life, that family can be depended on, that true passion is worth waiting for, and that grief can heal. Most important, he he passes on the ways of his ancestors-knowledge that Blue will need to find a sense of her own true self amid the chaos of her adolescence. Reminiscent of Dorothy Allison and Barbara Kingsolver, Strong for Potatoes is a rich, evocative literary debut by a gifted writer and teller of the most rewarding kind of story: beautifully crafted, authentic, moving, and ultimately uplifting.… (més)
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Curious story about a young woman, Blue, living in Maine, who is part Passamaquoddy. She endures an accident when young that leaves her partly disabled. She suffers some small amount of curiosity and prejudice from other children because of her disability, but finds that prejudice is much stronger when she reveals her Native American heritage.

While still a girl, she frequently stays with her grandfather on the reservation. It is here that she meets an elderly basketmaker who shows her her craft, making baskets from ash and sweetgrasses. Blue takes to the process quickly and is determined to become very good at it.

Blue is one half of a set. Her twin, Berry, was born without a brain and lived only a few days. Knowing about her sister, Blue brings her to life in her head and spends time talking to her, working things out with the sister in her imagination.

In some ways Blue's childhood is ideal, but in others not so much. She is particularly affected by the relationship between her parents. It is this that often leads her to call on her grandfather for guidance. Her grandfather tells her to seek passion in her love life. Watching those around her, she sees passion sometimes and wants it.

A nice introduction to Passamoquoddy culture and some phonetic language, but I felt the introduction of Passamoquoddy mysticism came rather late into the story and felt, to me, out of place, as if Blue were following something she wasn't sure of herself. I wasn't as affected by the difficult events in her life as I think I should have been. It's an interesting book but it didn't grab me. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I should not have liked this book as much as I did, given that it comes from the "let's make a lot of horrible things happen to a passive person and call it 'growth'" genre. And it has cross-over with the "everyone is sympathetic except for the cold mother, she's just awful" genre--another plot device I have no interest in. And yet, I still am glad I read it and would recommend it. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
I loved this book, mostly because I loved reading about the relationship between Blue and her grandfather, and also because its the story of a young girl who overcomes her disabilities and lack of appropriate parental nurturing. It's a great coming of age story. The book is well-written and I'm glad to have it in my collection. ( )
  Mokihana | Jul 5, 2010 |
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Cynthia Thayer's acclaimed debut novel, Strong for Potatoes, is the resonant story of the difficult youth of Blue Willoughby, a remarkable girl growing up in eastern Maine. In a life beset by tragedy, beginning with the death of her twin sister Berry only days after their birth, Blue must discover on her own strength she needs to survive. Blue's true ally is her grandfather, a full-blooded Passamoquoddy Indian who teaches Blue life's most vital lessons: that the ways of nature can illuminate life, that family can be depended on, that true passion is worth waiting for, and that grief can heal. Most important, he he passes on the ways of his ancestors-knowledge that Blue will need to find a sense of her own true self amid the chaos of her adolescence. Reminiscent of Dorothy Allison and Barbara Kingsolver, Strong for Potatoes is a rich, evocative literary debut by a gifted writer and teller of the most rewarding kind of story: beautifully crafted, authentic, moving, and ultimately uplifting.

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