"Drizzle" is a coming of age story
Kathleen Van Cleve
Dial Books for Young Readers
Available at bookstores, amazon.com
Eleven-year-old Polly Peabody lives on a rhubarb farm where it rains every Monday at 1 p.m., the rhubarb tastes like chocolate and the bugs talk if you listen.
She and her two siblings, Patricia and Freddy, live in a castle and their parents live across an enchanted lake in their own cube. Her father is a scientist who spends most of his time with rhubarb research. Her mother helps keep their farm, Rupert’s Rhubarb Farm, running smoothly as a farm and tourist attraction.
The farm is the No. 6 tourist attraction in the United States, with an umbrella ride, White House and a Learning Garden "for children to discover more about the wonders of nature."
Drizzle is a coming of age book of sorts. Polly must find where she fits in among her family and among her classmates.
She spends most of her time at school avoiding her classmates, especially Jennifer Jong, for fear they’ll think she’s weird. Jong delights in this invisible power she holds over Polly, teasing and taunting her at every turn.
At home, Polly confides in her rhubarb plant, Harry. She is still coming to terms with her grandmother’s death four years earlier. Her aunt Edith has taken her under her wing. Edith returned to the farm after her mother’s death to help Polly’s parents run the farm.
Edith isn’t entirely happy with the return to the farm and her decisions are one of the book’s conflicts.
Edith introduces Polly to the library of her great-grandmother, Enid, and to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance.
Quotes from Self-Reliance are peppered throughout Drizzle: "Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions," "Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself," and "trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."
Polly refers to quotes from the book as she weaves her way through her days. She develops a friendship with Basford Von Trammel, the godson of her family’s housekeeper, when he comes to live with them. Basford is honest with Polly as only a good friend can be.
"You always give up when you have to deal with people who make you confused or upset," Basford tells Polly. "…Plus you act like all the other kids are mean, just like her, which they’re not, if you’d give them a chance, which you don’t."
When the rain stops, Polly must find the courage to help the farm as only she can.
The book is written in a diary format and is a good read. Though written for a middle school audience, the book will resonate with adults who remember their middle school days and who are perhaps still searching for where they fit in.