Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Mischief and Malice by Berthe Amoss
Addie has always been best friends with Tom, a next door neighbor, but when his father Louis suddenly shows up, she falls head over heels in love with the older man, despite the fact that he had deserted Tom and his mother ten years ago. And after Louise asks Addie to go to the train to pick up Tom, she is sure he feels the same way about her. Tom, however, refuses to speak to his father and friction flares between him and Addie over it.
Meanwhile, a family has rented out the house that Addie lived in with Aunt Eveline. Addie discovers their real home is a plantation called Oakwood, just north of New Orleans, so they are not planning on remaining in the house for long. And they have a daughter, Norma Jean Valerie, who is rather thin and sickly. She's Addie's age, and soon the two girls are friends.
Addie's life revolves around her family, her friends, her school, an upcoming dance that she doesn't want to go to and a Christmas play she is helping the nuns at her Catholic school put together, and of course, boys, crushes, and being in love with an older man and with always trying to best Sandra Lee and never succeeding. It all sounds like pretty normal stuff, until Addie overhears a strange conversation between Louis and Mrs. Valerie. Realizing they are up to something, their conversation leads her to do some investigating on her own, and pretty soon she has a real mystery on her hands to try and solve. And, it turns out, the mystery involves her directly and the house she loves so dearly. How could she possible have any connection to Louis and Mrs. Valerie's connivances? She never met the Valeries before and Louis has been gone since she was four years old, much too young to get involved with anyone's schemes. Or is it?
And to top all that, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the US enters World War II.
Mischief and Malice is a sequel to a book called Secret Lives, written 30 years ago. I hadn't read Secret Lives, so when I first started reading Mischief and Malice I was a little lost among all the names and Addie's relatives and their back story, but it didn't take long to catch on. I think that is because it is written in the voice of a very chatty, lively 14 year old with lots of thoughts that are really explanations for the benefit of the reader.
Addie Agnew is the first person narrator and her thoughts and observations contain a certain honesty not often found in many coming-of-age characters but very well defined here. Her confusions, her crushes, and conscience all make up a nice well rounded character. Addie is a typical teenaged Catholic girl and her religion is a real part of her life. She reminded me so much of some of my friends at that age who were Catholic.
I did love the competition between Addie and her cousin Sandra Lee. That reminded me of my sister and me when we were growing up. But I also loved how they could pull together when the situation called for a united front.
The mystery isn't really a big deal and comes towards the end of the novel, but Mischief and Malice is a wonderful work of historical fiction giving us a window into life just before the US entered the war. War was certainly on people's minds, in reality and in this story, but took a backseat to everyday life before Pearl Harbor.
I had a lot of fun reading Mischief and Malice and kudos to Berthe Amoss for taking up Addie's story again. Will there be a third Addie story? I hope so.
This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Ig Publishing