Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Saver

The Saver, by Edeet Ravel


Fern arrives home from school one day to find that her mother has been rushed to the hospital. Arriving at the hospital she learns that her mother is dead, and that she is completely alone in the world. At age seventeen, Fern is face with quitting school, finding work, and supporting herself. To start, she takes over cleaning the houses that her mother had previously cleaned. Soon though, she finds that this is untenable, and she will need to make her own way. She remembers that a teacher once told her that if someone were to save all of their money, never spending a penny, for fifteen years, they could make a million dollars. This, she decides is the goal for her, and she sets about a plan. She will need to get a job where she can live rent-free, and perhaps a second where she can eat for free. With an awesome determination she sets about achieving this goal.

The story deals with hard realities. Fern has never known her father, her mother was abused as a child and had a difficult adulthood before her early death. Fern was the butt of much bullying in school because of her weight. She has not been a good student. Then, after her mother dies, she is faced with overwhelming guilt for having fought with her mother on the very morning of her death. It is all harsh. However, the story never descends into angst. There is no overdrawn self-pity or introspection. Fern gets down to the business of living, while dealing with her mourning. It is refreshing.

The story is told in a series of letters that Fern writes to a childhood imaginary friend. This friend lives on a uptopic planet that is very different from Fern's own. She compares her reality to what it could, and perhaps ought, to be. Yet, as the story draws to its conclusion, Fern writes that she will perhaps not have time to communicate with this friend as often, because she will be too busy with earthly matters. It leaves the reader with a sense of hope that Fern will find her way in the world and live a contented life.

I would recommend this book for a mid-teen audience.


Matthew said...

you're missing a word. "Her mother is."

MadJenny said...

Thanks. I'm forever accidentally highlighting moving and deleting text by brushing my wrist on the laptop mouse pad thing. Such a pain.