Thursday, November 22, 2012


Becca Anne's Request
Language. 3. Like Left Behind, this first-person narrative is not shy about saying that they swore; however, I don't recall them using swear words, unless it was maybe once or twice.
Violence. 4. Some is described, but in the major portion of violence, the act itself is not; only afterward.

Sexual. 6. I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. This isn't at all graphic. However, this aspect of any book is the first to bother me. The word and subject themselves are used several times, and, in Dr. MacNiell, inappropriately (in my opinion). In a conversation between Miss Alice and Christy, the subject is also brought up, but the text is nothing to worry over.
Rating as a book: PG or PG-13, mainly because of the references above and the idea of the violence.
Rating it would be as a movie: PG-13, with regard to the above.
Therefore: Tweens are the youngest I would recommend this for. However, you might find them to be disinterested until they get a little older.

   I think I may have to recant my devotion to Anne Shirley. I said once on this blog that the most vivid personality I'd ever met in fiction was that adorable redhead. But then I recalled Christy Huddleston, the obstinate, impetuous, ever-seeking-answers college student from high-falutin' Asheville, North Carolina, who morphs into a schoolteacher at a mission in Tennessee. And immediately I wondered: Is the imaginative, intelligent, pretty Anne really up to challenging a person as true to life in fiction as I have ever seen?
   And thus begins the discussion of characters. Catherine Marshall based this story on her mother, Leonora Wood, and her journey to the Appalachian Mountains to teach. While some parts are true, others are not. The text is written in first-person. Those two facts combine, I think, to make Christy's character all the more compelling and real. Secondary characters Miss Alice Henderson, David Grantland, and Niel MacNiell are also well-done; again, most likely because at least half of their stories are true. My only shade of annoyance with any of these characters is the perfection of Miss Alice. Loving, patient, and rebuking when needed--it appears unrealistic. Her beauty of soul could be partially because, in Christy's tale, she unwittingly placed Miss Alice on a "pedestal" of spiritual greatness. So, while Alice seems extraordinarily at peace, David struggles with his call to the ministry and a blockading business going on right beneath his nose. Dr. MacNiell, within the last three years robbed of his wife, fights against God with the belief that he needs nothing other than himself and science. 
   There are several plots in the book that spans eleven months of the young teacher's life. I won't reveal too much of them. One of the first is Christy's nose: as ridiculous as it may sound, the smells ("funks") of the children bother her the most (throughout the book she "rues" her sensitive nose). Another is the aforementioned blockading business heading out of the Cove, using schoolboys as go-betweens. One of the final plots is a deadly typhoid epidemic which totals more than fifty cases in and around Cutter Gap. Yet one of the best parts--and this is covered more fully in the next paragraph--is Christy's ongoing struggle with her beliefs.
   Christy came to Cutter Gap as one of the church-going folk who listen to everything but the sermon during the actual church service--not because of loathing of the religion, but because of the boredom seen in it. Whereupon she meets Miss Alice, who is aflame with God's love, to whom religion is anything but boring. Christy's experiences, and Miss Alice's gentle reproofs, force her to be honest with herself and God. A variety of occurrences cause her anger against the Lord, her attempts at faith, her utter knowledge that she is loved. One of the best sentences in the book: God is--and that is enough.
   If you look at the image of the cover of Christy (that was the cover on my family's copy), you'll see that it says, "One of the best-loved of all American novels." I believe that it is justly loved. You've seen that because of the at-least-half-true thing about this book, the characters are that much more lifelike. All authors should strive to make their people this clear. The plots are very engaging, perhaps all the more because they are written in an episodic manner. Christy's fight for faith is very rewarding--all of us should be more like her. I think it's better to be unsure and to ask dozens of questions of your God than to be a serving-two-masters, or a lukewarm, Christian. Yet all of these assets would be nothing without Marshall's writing style. It flows so naturally. She is wonderfully descriptive. Her metaphors and similes wouldn't match in creativity to L.M. Montgomery or J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe, but they are all that much the better because of their simplicity. So yes, I'm telling you to read it. If you haven't read it, you haven't read one of the best books (I think) in the world. It's such a refreshing read. Let me know what you think about it :)


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Hannah. As one of my two favorite books, it was very fun to read someone elses opinion of this book. And, I have to agree, it's hard to pick between Christy Huddelston and Anne Shirly.

    Thanks for doing this.

  2. Hi Hannah! I just found your blog a few days ago and I'm really liking it! I read Christy a few years ago and loved it. This post made me realize that it's definitely worth a re-read!

    1. @ Becca Anne: I bet our opinions of this book are very similar!

      @ Laurz: I'm glad I inspired someone to re-read it :) I love this book.


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