Here Today Hardcover – Oct 1 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–A poignant story set in the 1960s that tells of a girl coming to accept her mother's inability to parent and to realize her own strength and separateness. Ellie Dingman, 11, has a beautiful mother who is always looking for her big break into show business. She has renamed herself Doris Day Dingman and insists that her children call her "Doris" rather than "Mom." Her immature delusions of grandeur in their small Hudson River Valley town are a source of deep embarrassment to Ellie, who is painfully aware of how cheap most people find Doris. She is often not home; much of the care of her younger siblings falls to Ellie, whose father works long hours. When mean girls target her best friend, Ellie and Holly try to be as inconspicuous as Doris is conspicuous. After President Kennedy is assassinated, the aspiring starlet realizes that life is short; she leaves the family, heading to New York City, where Ellie finds her months later, not living glamorously but working in a department store. Doris returns home only once, to gather all her things and move to Hollywood. Martin paints a well-articulated picture of the times, but it is her memorable child and adult characters that shine here. Like Hattie in A Corner of the Universe (Scholastic, 2002), Ellie is a perceptive and compassionate protagonist who ultimately comes into her own.–Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 5-7. "In 1963 Ellie's mother, Doris Day Dingman, was crowned the Bosetti Beauty at Mr. Bosetti's supermarket." This opening line sets the tone for Martin's sharp, tender story, told from the viewpoint of Ellie, 11, who is caught between love, shame, and fury when her self-obsessed mother eventually leaves their small-town home to search for stardom in New York. The Dingmans live on Witch Tree Lane with a "knot of outcasts" like themselves, and Ellie and her neighbor and best friend, Holly, are cruelly bullied at school, just as hate crimes threaten the adults on the street. There's also a strong sense of the times, including the furor when Kennedy is shot. There may be too much going on for one novel, but as in her Newbery Honor Book, A Corner of the Universe (2002), Martin takes on themes more common in YA fiction, bringing them close for middle-grade readers without oversimplifying any of the characters. The family story is unforgettable. The quiet surprise is that Doris may think she is the center of attention, but it's really Dad, who is beautifully drawn as he moves from the background to take charge of his kids and find home on his street. Like Ellie, he must let Doris go. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Ellie is an 11 year old girl who lives in Spectacle witch is near New York. She has a brother, a sister, a father and a mother. Ellie’s life is falling apart. Her mother does not care about anyone but herself. School is the worst part of all. Students hurt Ellie treat her with no respect. But she does not fight back or say anything, she just takes it. What will happen? Will she pull her life back together?
This book is moving and disturbing at times. If you are between the ages 10-14 I recommend this book to you.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ellie's family lives on Witch Tree Lane, along with the other fascinating misfits in town. Ellie has many friends on the street, some of whom function as substitute mothers during Doris's many classes in dance, acting, and singing. Doris believes in making things happen. She has changed her name to that of the movie star, Doris Day. She talks the local A&P market into letting her be the Lehman's Spam Spread girl.
Doris is gone five hours the afternoon she heads off to talk the local clothing store into a fashion show (starring herself, of course). In response to her absence, Mr. Dingman is too quiet, Ellie's brother Albert is furious, and her sister Marie cries. When Doris comes home late --- and drunk --- she and her husband argue loudly.
As Ellie and her best friend Holly start sixth grade, they're impressed with their young cute male teacher and with the new girl, Tammy White, who is not in awe of the popular girls --- the ones who delight in torturing Ellie and Holly. Doris appears in Ellie's classroom dressed in a tight red dress and very high heels, with her hair in a bouffant tower. Ellie is humiliated, but Tammy is intrigued.
As time goes on, Ellie can't sleep at night. She knows something terrible is going to happen. What will it be, and when will it come? In the meantime bad things are happening to Ellie and Holly at school, and to the residents of Witch Tree Lane. The world is shocked and saddened by President Kennedy's assassination, but self-involved Doris is angry because the Harvest Parade is called off and she won't get to be the Harvest Queen. Finally, inevitably, the something that Ellie has been dreading comes to be. It's so huge and devastating that it changes her world forever. Will she survive?
Ellie's story is heartbreaking and real. At various times while reading HERE TODAY, I felt sad, angry, and frightened. I'll remember Ellie for finding strength when life battered her, and for leaving me with an uplifting surge of hope. Highly recommended.
Once again, Ann M. Martin captures her readers through sharing the heartrending and genuine story of Miss Eleanor Roosevelt Dingman. While reading this beautifully written novel, I found myself riding along-side Ellie on the "emotional roller-coaster" she calls life. Ellie seized my heart and inspired my soul. As a result, I highly recommend HERE TODAY.
Anyway, this book tells the story of a young girl who is struggling with a mother who obviously has no desire to raise her children. It's more than an 11 year old girl taking care of her siblings and watching her mother go. It's about the bonds a mother has with her children. The hardest part of this book is that Doris truly does love her children, and that is the biggest conflict in the book. While it would be a great read for young girls I also found it to be very touching as a college student. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read historical and realistic fiction.
The story is beautiful and I know this is a book that I will read again and hopefully will be able to use when I teach.
I thought that the book was good. The cover made it look boring to me but I had to read it and it wasn't as bad as it looked. I guess that proves not to judge a book by it's cover!
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