Aug 11, 2008

The Elm at the Edge of the Earth

by Robert D. Hale

This is a book I found browsing in a public library one day many, many years ago. I read it several times from the library, then finally acquired my own copy. It's the story of a young boy growing up in a most curious circumstance. His mother being ill, David is sent to live with his Aunt Maude, who is head cook at the County Home. This nearly self-sustaining farm is home to a hundred and sixty people who don't fit into society for one reason or another- some have physical handicaps, mental disabilities or illness, others have been "put away" for misconduct. Although it is never clearly explained (since everything is seen through the eyes of a child), the Home seems to fill roles of Social Services, mental institution and orphanage all in one. David roams the buildings and landscape making unlikely friends such as Rose, committed for killing her husband, and Adeline, a black girl who practices voodoo. He raises ducks and causes trouble, struggles in school, tries to deal with bullies, and thoroughly enjoys life. David accepts everyone as they are, innocent to the prejudices and antipathies many of the people he encounters have against each other. While his aunt can't always keep track of him, David finds friendship and guidance from other residents of the Home- some whose advice and teaching aren't exactly conventional. The Elm at the Edge of the Earth is a touching, often amusing story. It looks at human nature from the inside out- through the eyes of an innocent boy learning about life from some uncommon people who care about him deeply, each in their own way.

Rating: 3/5                             351 pages, 1990

3 comments:

Trish said...

Interesting that you've rated it a 3/5 but have picked it up several times? Sounds like a very interesting book, though--especially seeing how everyone deals differently with David's upbringing.

Jeane said...

The first few times I read it, I really enjoyed this book. The last time I picked it up I had trouble finishing it. Just wasn't holding my attention well. I almost removed it from my library (gave it away) but remembering how much I loved it before, decided I just wasn't in the right mood for it this time. That's why it got a 3, because subconsciously I feel dissatisfied after the last reading still. Hm. I need to think this through more.

janet said...

Sounds like you do a lot of rereading.

I can see why you'd pick this one up more than once. Must be a lot there to think about.