Child of My Heart – Alice McDermott
Genre: Coming of Age; Friendship
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Theresa is the most requested babysitter among the wealthy families in her town. When her younger cousin, Daisy, comes to town to spend the summer with her, Theresa and Daisy form a solid bond as they make their way through the events that the season has to offer. While the journey is sometimes tumultuous, especially when dealing with growing, feisty children, Theresa does some growing of her own as she transitions into adulthood.
Review: My friend, Christina, recommended this book to me when I was going through a serious reading slump a year or two ago. I started reading Child of My Heart sometime last year, put it down for some inexplicable reason, finally remembered that I had been reading this book a few days ago, and polished it off quickly. See, everybody? This is why you should only read one book at a time instead of ten. As soon as I picked this book back up, I remembered the plot and was drawn back in immediately, which doesn’t always happen when I set something aside for awhile. Child of My Heart was an absorbing, well-written book with a cast of characters that I’m sure will stick with me for quite some time.
Theresa was an exceptional narrator, and I loved watching her mature and grow throughout the book. The observations she made were often very poignant, and it was a pleasure to accompany her on her journey. It was easy to see the affection she held for the children in her care, and I thought her relationship with Daisy was especially sweet. While I didn’t agree with all of Theresa’s decisions, especially as it related to Daisy, she had an incredibly authentic, distinct voice and was an excellent storyteller.
While this book was really well-written, it was also heartbreaking in a number of ways. It was very hard to read about the abuse and neglect that some of the children experienced from their parents, but it was nice to see that at least Theresa was able to give them some of the love they sought.
Additionally, because of the creep factor, the scenes with the aging painter are etched in my memory. Even though Theresa was grown up in a lot of ways, these scenes emphasized how vulnerable and naïve she still was.
Child of My Heart is not a happy book by any means, but it’s definitely a good read. If you enjoy well-written coming of age novels, give this book a try. Just keep in mind that there is an ick factor with the aging painter, so if you’re uncomfortable reading things of that nature, you might want to skip this one.