Thursday, November 10, 2016

Downham, Jenny. Unbecoming.

Downham, Jenny.  Unbecoming.  Scholastic Press  2016  375p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-545-90717-0  hs/adult  Conflict  VG-BN  

Unbecoming examines the lives and relationships of three generations of women in a family. The story begins when Mary, who is getting old and suffers from dementia, is brought to live temporarily with her daughter Caroline, who resents Mary a great deal. Caroline in turn has a teenage daughter named Katie, who has her own problems relating to her mother. The story of the missed communications and misunderstandings among these three generations unfolds gradually, with a great deal of detail and sensitivity. It is told from the points of view of all three characters, especially Mary and Katie.  It becomes clear to the reader that these women are all good people who were not able to truly bond with each other because of circumstances, social mores of the times in which they lived, and other people in their lives. The reader roots for all three at different points in the novel, although Caroline, the mother who is in the in-between generation, is the least sympathetic of the three.  As Mary faced societal scorn as a young girl in the 50s because of her unplanned pregnancy, Katie in the 2000s is struggling with her burgeoning knowledge that she is attracted to girls instead of boys, and the ensuing bullying of her peers.  The final denouement comes as a relief and catharsis to the reader. While the book may seem overly long to some, it will appeal to readers who really like getting into characters and seeing how they relate to one another.

Summary: Unbecoming examines the lives and relationships of three generations of women in a family, who suffer from a series of misunderstandings and missed communications that begin when a young girl becomes pregnant out of wedlock in the 1950s.

Out-of-wedlock pregnancy-Fiction, Families-Fiction    --Carol Kennedy

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