Review of the Day: Miss Spitfire (Part Two)
I did have some questions here and there. As I’ve said, you get the feeling that Miller was a stickler for historical accuracy. So much so that there is no cleaning up of the real Annie’s references to the "little negro boy" who worked in the house. So it was interesting to me that at no point does Annie go about wearing dark glasses ala Anne Bancroft. I assume that this was a theatrical flourish in the stage production of Helen’s story that didn’t accurately occur at this point in time. I did wish for a mention of it somewhere in the book, though.
And I had some other confusions elsewhere. Miller’s book never really clarifies how Annie got out of the almshouse and into the Perkins school for the blind. How was her way paid? We see a brief encounter between her and a man in charge of Perkins, but there’s never a full explanation of how that led to her acceptance into the school. I had hoped that maybe the author’s note in the back would offer some background, but the only mention of the incident is a cryptic sentence reading, "Annie enters Perkins Institutions for the Blind" without any attention paid to the "hows" behind the sentence.
For me, the book is summarized nicely in the real life quote taken from Anne Sullivan’s letters to a Ms. Sophia Hopkins, appearing at the beginning of Chapter Six. "The greatest problem I shall have to solve is how to discipline and control her without breaking her spirit." In the solution we find the heart of the novel. I’ve read very little historical fiction this year that stayed with me. I like to think that Ms. Miller’s book is one of the few worth keeping close at hand. A really enjoyable story.
Go to this site to find selections from the book, the "birth of a book jacket", a chance to dowload said jacket, and a "Miss Spitfire" reading guide.
You’d be doing yourself a disfavor if you failed to read Sarah Miller’s blog every single day. Seriously. It’s just that good.
Filed under: Reviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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