Friday, January 30, 2009

Too Close to the Falls

by Catherine Gildiner


General: This is the story of a girl coming of age in the 50's on a boarder town in Upper New York. The small town in which she lived was called Lewiston, located very near Niagara Falls. Her father was owner/pharmacist of a drug store in Niagara. This was an idyllic small town where families knew one another, mother's stayed home and baked cookies for the kids, and no one divorced. However, Catherine's life was anything but "normal". Although she had happily married parents, her father's work kept him away from home from dawn until night six days a week. By the age of four, Cathy was working full time delivery for the pharmacy, and continued to work throughout her childhood, and before and after school. We are introduced to many of the townspeople who impacted Catherine's life in special ways, Roy, Mad Bear, Warty and Mother Agnese to name a few. Catherine's mother was eccentric, not holding Cathy to any rules and never cooking or cleaning.  However, she taught Catherine to read by the age of four and constantly instilled history lessons in their talks. She has a great memory for detail. 

Thoughts: Catherine was ahead of her time in a town in which she was a fish out of water. For a girl growing up in the 50's she was definitely not being brought up as Betty Crocker, but as a career woman. Although the story ends when she is a preteen so you don't really know what happens, you can imagine because of her nature; she just couldn't sit still. 
Funny that if she were in school today, the doctor would be medicating her for ADD, not prescribing her to work in her father's store to burn off her excess energy. What a different world!
Catherine is a good story teller, and many times her stories made me laugh out loud. 
I will say, I didn't like the ending. Not because it left so much unsaid, but because of the whole situation with the priest. Throughout the book, it is apparent that she struggled with religion (the Catholic church) her entire life, however I think you can take your "bashing" too far, and in this case I think she did. That entire story about her and the priest, and her friend Miranda with him, didn't ring true, just seemed another way to make the church look bad. 

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