Quaking

July 26, 2009
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Quaking is a really fascinating and thought-provoking book once you get into it. Matt, the main character, is a depressed fourteen-year-old who has been passed from family member to family member after her mother's tragic death. Finally she comes to rest in the “Quaker Casa” of Sam Fox and his wife Jessica, who are very strongly involved in the antiwar movement. There she is faced with the many new political and social views of Quaker life and with Mr. Morehead (or Mr. Warhead), who from Matt's point of view is determined to make her life horrible. This time of adjustment is made even harder by the fact that churches and organizations that believe in peace are being bombed, and Matt doesn't want anything to happen to Sam.

I love how the author really describes all Matt's thoughts and feelings. It helps you get to know and understand her better, which I feel is essential for fully grasping the meaning of the whole book. To make sense of her thoughts, sometimes you need words that make not just a picture, but help you feel, hear, and smell the scene. There are many of these in Quaking. You get it all, from the crisp smell of apples to the toot of car horns.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book for me is how Matt responds to certain Quaker ideas. I found myself comparing her reactions to my own experiences in a Quaker environment, mine a school. At first Matt tries to stay as far away from everyone else as she can, but soon she gives up. She is surprised and a little confused when Sam and Jessica think that things like the way she dresses are wonderful and that they're how she expresses herself, even though most people think they're weird. She thinks Sam's peace vigils are useless, and she doesn't want to get involved. But when I started interacting with Quakers, I just fell right in. I think one of the reasons that we felt differently is that I was introduced to these ideas at a younger age (fourth grade), so I had not really encountered as many ways of thinking. It must have been hard for her to sort out what she should believe and what she should not.

I also kept finding details that I encounter all the time in my everyday life. One example is the song “George Fox.” In the book Matt finds herself singing this song at the Quaker meetinghouse one First Day (Sunday). I sing this song almost every Friday at our school's Meeting for Worship. For me, these similarities kept the book flowing.

The ending I found extremely attention-grabbing. Usually, near the beginning of a book, something really big happens (called an inciting incident). That is the case in Quaking. Near the end, something of the same nature happened. I found this unexpected but very satisfying.





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SaraB. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm
I read Quaking last summer, and I loved it. Very good review. (Hey! my name is Sara too! :)
 
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