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Following My Own Footsteps [Paperback]

Mary Downing Hahn
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

As World War II rages in Europe, there are battles closer to home for sixth-grader Gordy, even after his physically and verbally abusive, alcoholic father is put behind bars. Gordy knows his family is a mess?as readers of Stepping on the Cracks will remember, his four younger siblings are like "puppies nobody'd bothered to train," one of his older brothers has deserted the Army, and his mother has become "dull and vacant." Still, the feisty protagonist is quick to defend them in front of his prim (and wealthy) grandmother when the family moves from Maryland into her house in North Carolina. Before long Gordy wonders if the new clothes and regular meals provided by his grandmother are enough to change his life?especially when his mother decides to give her husband a second chance. While some elements of the plot are predictable if not overdramatized, the complex characterizations, period setting and Gordy's brave attempts to break a cycle of violence will hold readers' interest. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-Sixth-grader Gordy Smith flees College Park, MD, with his mother and younger siblings to escape an abusive, alcoholic father, seeking refuge with his affluent maternal grandmother in Grandville, NC. Always an outsider, the boy protects himself from rejection with a veneer of insolence and pugnacity, bragging about his brother Donny who is fighting the Nazis in Germany. He jeopardizes his only friendship when he tries a dangerous experiment to get the boy, a fatherless polio victim, to walk. Donny's return from the war brings further disillusionment when the young man shares his horrible experiences and falls short of Gordy's expectations of a conquering hero. When their father arrives to reclaim his family, Gordy refuses to fall back into the old pattern of violence, choosing instead the uncertain security of remaining with his grandmother. The story is absorbing and, for the most part, believable, and details of the period are accurate. But Gordy's first-person narrative renders characterization incomplete, and readers are left with some stereotypes, particularly of the boy's parents. The writing is uneven, and particularly jarring is the repetition of the phrase "the old man" (as Gordy calls his father) as often as seven times on one page. References to Gordy's brother Stu raise questions that are unresolved here. Readers of Hahn's Stepping on the Cracks (Clarion, 1991), a companion to this book, do know Stu's fate, however, and will be interested in Gordy's story despite its flaws.
Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

For as long as he can remember, Gordy and the other members of his family have been routinely beaten bloody by his alcoholic father. In fact, his father is in jail for beating one brother, now hospitalized. Mama, unable to support the family alone, takes the family to Grandma's house in North Carolina, where Gordy--a tough kid who brawls, curses, and scorns school--meets his match; Grandma will brook none of Gordy's sass. Outside her house he's as obnoxious as ever until he meets William, wheelchair-bound from polio. The boys soon become good friends, until Gordy's well-intentioned plan to force William to walk results in William's mother taking him away. Can things get worse? They can--Daddy is out of jail and Mama, a born victim, is ready to rejoin him. Gordy knows he'll never be happy at Grandma's, but the alternative is worse. As Grandma slowly begins to breach Gordy's carefully constructed walls of toughness and bluster, he starts to realize that he's where he belongs. William returns, with leg braces and crutches, but without the wheelchair, an improvement credited to Gordy. A cast of unforgettable characters inhabit this work, seasoned with WW II setting but utterly contemporary in its concerns. Hahn is in top form, proving through Gordy's first-person narration that real love can triumph over all kinds of adversity, and often does. (Fiction. 10-14) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Hahn once again displays her remarkable facility for adapting to the demands of different genres. . . . Sometimes heart-rending, sometimes funny, Gordy Smith will prove memorable to all who meet him." (Booklist, ALA, Starred Review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Always interested in writing, Mary Downing Hahn became a children's author only after experimenting with a wide variety of careers, from junior high school art teacher to college instructor to children's librarian. Today she is the author of more than twenty books that have appeared on countless state awards lists. Her stories run the gamut from historical fiction such as the popular Gordy trilogy, to ghost stories such as Wait Till Helen Comes and Look for Me by Moonlight. Her most recent work, Anna All Year Round, is a gentle and heartwarming story based on her own mother's diaries.
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