Reviews for R My Name Is Rachel

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #1
The Depression has hit Rachel and her family hard. With her father desperate to find work, he decides to move Rachel and her brother and sister to a town where he has the possibility of a job. Their new home, a farm, is a disaster: the house is falling down, there's no electricity, and the bathroom is just an outhouse. On top of that, their cat has run away, the school and library have shut down for lack of funds, and her dear friend, the florist Miss Mitzi, has been left behind in their old town. (If only Pop had asked her to come with.) Worst of all, Pop's job is given to someone else. Then, when it seems like things couldn't get any worse, they do. Pop decides he must leave to take a public works job, leaving the children to get by alone. Simply written, this novel doesn't have the emotional resonance of some recent Depression-era stories like Clare Vanderpool's Moon over Manifest (2010), but readers will root for the kids who seem to face overwhelming odds. The upbeat ending satisfies. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
During the Depression, Rachel, twelve, is devastated by her family's move from New York City to upstate North Lake. Everything goes wrong, and Pop joins a government funded road crew, reluctantly leaving his children. The book's strengths are its engaging characters and the immediacy of Rachel's present-tense narrative. Giff provides a realistic picture of goodhearted children empowered by their own competence in hard times. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #6
Since Pop lost his job in the Great Depression, his family is so broke that even a butcher's gift of a slice of bologna is a big deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt's election holds out hope, but meanwhile Rachel, twelve, is devastated by the family's move from New York City to upstate North Lake. At first, everything goes wrong: a March blizzard costs Pop a promised job, their leaky rented house has no plumbing or electricity, and hard times have closed the local school. Worst, Miss Mitzi -- the beloved friend they'd hoped would marry Pop, widowed at Rachel's little sister Cassie's birth ten years ago -- is still back in the city. Come spring, Pop joins a government funded road crew, reluctantly leaving his children to cope in classic (if not always perfectly plausible) style: Rachel buys a goat and plants a garden, neatnik Cassie cooks and cleans, and daredevil middle child Joey polishes the weathervane and jollies his bickering sisters. Predictably, all ends well; even the elusive stray cat the girls brought north shows up to betoken reconciliation all around. The book's strengths are its engaging characters (especially dreamy, book-hungry Rachel and practical Cassie, who finally discover vital common ground) and the immediacy of Rachel's present-tense narrative. A realistic picture of goodhearted children empowered by their own competence in hard times. joanna rudge long Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Giff's (Storyteller) plaintive yet heartening historical novel introduces a close-knit family devastated by the Depression. After losing his job in the city, Rachel's widower father moves his children to the country, where, to Rachel's sorrow, the school and library are closed for lack of funds ("I can't even cry. No library: the idea is too big for tears"). Meanwhile, Rachel's father finds work that keeps him away from home for months. Left in charge of her younger siblings--bossy, organized Cassie and reckless, optimistic Joey--12-year-old Rachel struggles to scrape together food and rent money, insisting that they will not ask for help: "I have to do this myself. No, not myself. Ourselves." The children transform their dilapidated farmhouse into a home, plant a garden, and turn for help to the bighearted woman who was Rachel's mentor in the city. Rachel's searing, present-tense narrative exposes her fears, determination, and hopefulness in the face of wrenching challenges. Recurring motifs--color, flowers, and drawings by a neighbor that Rachel discovers in unlikely places--add lyricism to this story of family solidarity. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 4-7--The 1930s Depression is chipping away more and more at the average American family, and 12-year-old Rachel's is no different from the others. Her father, a single parent, loses his job at the bank and relocates the family from the city to a dilapidated farmhouse in upstate New York. A snowstorm prevents Pop from getting to a bank interview in their town. Rachel and her younger siblings, Cassie and Joey, must fend for themselves when he leaves them for a time to take work building roads farther north. Rachel is extremely disappointed that the school and library are closed because of hard times, and the farm is isolated. Still, the siblings are determined to make a go of it. Rachel's correspondence with her friend Miss Mitzi, who owns the flower shop on her old city block, gives her strength and encouragement. When Cassie loses the money Pop had left for them to buy food and pay rent, she runs away, giving rise to the well-calculated suspense and pathos of the story. Giff's depiction of the children's living conditions, daily activities, and fears and triumphs create a realistic, discussable, thoroughly enjoyable read. The ending is almost too perfectly "happy ever after" yet that is easy to overlook, given this gift to readers, even reluctant ones.--D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

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