Pictures Of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

March 6, 2010
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Picture of Hollis Woods
By Patricia Reilly Giff
166pp. New York: Scholastic Inc, 2002.

A very emotional, heart- touching novel with a piece of short flashbacks following is a story about a filthy, non-expressive girl named Hollis Woods. Patricia Reilly Giff gives a sensational story about Hollis, a foster child who spends nearly half her time looking for a good family of her own. She’s just an authentic, normal girl who likes to share her experiences she had with different families through her artistic drawings. Hollis is pursued by her surroundings in every family she lives in and runs away if she feels if its not the right family, the mustard woman, the way Hollis ludicrously describes is her guardian for arranging good families.

As she spends time with Josie Cahill, a middle aged woman who’s described to have a face like an actress and the current person Hollis is living with, Hollis is intervened with her own humanly beautiful drawings. Josie, a resentful character yet often forgetful, builds a tree-figure of Hollis, to show her compassionate love and affection. Hollis, as she spends time with Josie like going to the movies and the beach looks at her desired paintings and is contradicted with flashbacks of the time she spent with the Steven’s family.

In the beginning even though it seemed a bit confusing, Patricia stretches it all out by comparing Hollis’s life with Josie, and her life with the Steven’s family.

As if the moment was held on, the mustard woman visits Hollis and tells her she does not condone her living with Josie. As there is a huge disappointment in both Josie’s and Hollis’s face, Hollis makes a plan to abscond to a new home so, they wouldn’t be predisposed in to something bad that would separate them. “I was gone for days before they caught me” said Hollis. They go to the same house her, Steven, Izzy and the Old man had lived during the summer. As they live there for a while Hollis continues thinking about her flashbacks. Patricia had been creating suspense all this time about why Hollis had run away from the House at Branches when she loved that family so much.

When Hollis was living with the Old man he bought her a gift that had all the necessary art supplies. Hollis had loved it and starts fiddling with it in her drawings. “Green, gray, brown, and black and the French blue One. Who knew what I could use it fir, but it was my favorite” Hollis had said. As she goes through the arduous job to get to the top of the mountain near the house, to draw the vast spread scenery. She is hurt, weak and damaged by the time she goes there. As if it was fated Steven, supposedly her brother because she isn’t yet adopted, comes up there with his truck to help her. As they come down hill in truck, the vehicle goes out of control and smashes against a tree. Steven is terribly hurt while Hollis had needed only minor stitches.

Hollis because of guilt consciousness and seeing the altercation between the Steven and the Old man everyday thinks its all her fault and compensates it by running away.

As she is thinking about this incident at the house her and Josie are staying in, she suddenly realized that she had made a huge mistake and it was selfish of her to bring Josie with her. “I’m going to call Beatrice” Hollis told Josie. Beatrice is Josie’s cousin who had gone to Mexico to paint the pueblos and the nice houses. As Hollis take a long walk in the bitter cold to the phone she ends up meeting Steven. This surprised the readers because who knows what was going to happen now? Will Hollis stay with Josie or Steven’s family?

Patricia Reilly Giff used clever techniques like visualization to describe the characters and other incidents. In this novel she had an in-built message that basically states you don’t have to find your family, the will come to you by themselves. Even though some of the techniques she used is transfixing, when there is too much repetition of the same thing it doesn’t make it special anymore. Some of the points were nitwitted like the reason she ran away from the Old man’s house. One specialty of the book was that it had many themes that puts one into critical thinking. “Belonging” was one of them. It makes the reader feel and think themselves in the place of Hollis Woods.

Overall, it was twisted, happy-ending, average and a book that has some good message and major points.

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