The Canning Season by Polly Horvath
Ratchet’s mother is sending her away from the summer, right now. She doesn’t even get to pack any clothes, off Ratchet goes. Ratchet is named Ratchet Ratchet by her mother Henriette over a dispute with Ratchet’s father, because he wanted to name her stupid names. Ratchet is thirteen now. Henriette is sending her up to Maine to visit with her aunts, Henriette’s aunts.
The Aunts, Tilly and Pen Pen are twins, fraternal twins; they look nothing alike. They live out in the middle of nowhere in a big old house and there are bears just everywhere. They used to have servants, but they let them go when father died, one got eaten by a bear. The sisters run a canning business. They pick blueberries and can them. One picks while the other keeps watch with a shotgun. The bears are always hungry.
The sisters aren’t quite sure what to do with Ratchet, but they make out. Another person soon shows up on their doorstep. Her name is Harper, and her mother, or not mother, mistakes the place for an orphanage. She keeps coming back t0 get Harper, but it never works out. Many bears later and some intrigue, things happen, some of them sad, but it turns out for the best.
What I liked
This book is absurd. It’s supposed to be funny, a la, Fannie Flagg type of funny, but people keep getting attacked by bears, kind of weird, but where would we be without a little morbid humor? The sisters are wonderful eccentric characters. I also like how everyone else got pulled together throughout the course of the story.
The setting was quite nice too. A big old grand house and lots of bears, why not?
The book is humorous in its own way and I enjoyed that.
What I didn’t like
Ratchet’s mother is a scumbag. She’s one of those women that don’t need to be mothers. She likes the idea of motherhood, but when it comes down to actually being a mom, she’s more concerned about herself. I’ve known a few of those women over the years, probably related to one or two. Look, it’s not nice to make fun of your own child for something physical about themselves. Ratchet’s mother makes her feel bad, all the time, about a birth mark Ratchet has. What the heck woman? If you’re so concerned about it, why didn’t you take the girl to a doctor and get it removed years ago?
You’re supposed to love your own child as they are. So if they’re ugly, you love them anyway. If they have six toes on one foot, you love them anyway, or you at least get them surgery to get that extra toe removed.
What’s up with the bears? That’s an awful way to die. Also, the sisters’ mom kills herself by chopping off her own head…what?
Also, I really feel as if this should have been a southern book. I kept imagining everyone with Southern accents, but it’s set up north. These people are really Southern I think.
Watch out for the bears.
Do you think you could live out in the middle of nowhere picking blueberries with a bunch of bears?
Would you be friends with the sisters?