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Morningstar: Growing Up With Books

Review

Morningstar: Growing Up With Books

For any avid reader, MORNINGSTAR is quite relatable. Although Ann Hood grew up in a blue-collar, working class family that had no interest in books, she became a bookworm by chance. It happened the very first time she looked at her older brother's reading book. Four-year-old Ann had just entered into a world of words and ideas that would later become not only a lifelong fascination but a successful writing career as well.

According to Ann, "My parents learned about life from hardship…. Me? I learned from books." And learned she did.

"Steinbeck once encouraged aspiring writers to 'spread a page with shining.' Ann Hood has certainly done just that with this slim but substantial book. It would not surprise me if MORNINGSTAR sends many readers in search of their favorite books for another read."

The small Rhode Island mill town had no library, but Ann read all the books in her classroom. She saved her allowance until she had the vast sum of two dollars --- the amount needed to purchase a Nancy Drew mystery. Between Ann and her cousin, Gloria Jean, they managed to collect and share the entire set. Ann's mother thought that buying books was a waste of money.

In second grade, Ann not only read and loved but really understood LITTLE WOMEN, much to the surprise and delight of her teacher. Ann preferred to stay indoors and read while her classmates were at recess. She loved words, and each new unknown word she encountered sent her to the dictionary. In eighth grade, she first heard "onomatopoeia" and was so fascinated by it that she compiled and rattled off a list of 42 examples, much to the annoyance of her classmates.

Books opened up the world to Ann, and she had a hunger to be out there, somewhere else. Though she could not locate that place on any map, she just knew she wanted to be there to experience it for herself.

Like so many avid young readers, the books Ann read growing up helped frame her view of the world. She related to the main character in MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, the hefty coming-of-age novel by Herman Wouk. She became aware of the power of words in the works of John Steinbeck, and appreciated the poetic lyrics in popular songs written by Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel. With the Vietnam War on the news every evening as a backdrop, she came to realize after reading JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN "...the horrors of all wars..."

Steinbeck once encouraged aspiring writers to "spread a page with shining." Ann Hood has certainly done just that with this slim but substantial book. It would not surprise me if MORNINGSTAR sends many readers in search of their favorite books for another read.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on August 11, 2017

Morningstar: Growing Up With Books
by Ann Hood

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2017
  • Genres: Essays, Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • ISBN-10: 039325481X
  • ISBN-13: 9780393254815