Friday, March 23, 2018

A Gift for Mama

A Gift for Mama. Esther Hautzig. 1981/1997. Penguin. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Sara was sick and tired of making presents. And Mother's Day was coming. For birthdays and for Hanukkah, for anniversaries and for Mother's Day, Sara always had to make a gift. Mama said that the best presents were handmade presents.

Premise/plot: Sara, our heroine, has determined that she will BUY her mother a present this year. This won't be easy. She doesn't have an allowance. She doesn't have money saved up. She has nothing but her determination--her grit--to find a way to make it happen. She knows exactly what she wants to buy her mother--a pair of slippers that her mother has admired from a store's window display. She knows exactly how much they cost--nine zlotys. How resourceful can one girl be?

My thoughts: The setting of this one is very understated. I believe it is set in Poland in the 1930s. It stars a Jewish family in a Jewish community. The focus isn't on HISTORY or DANGER or THREATS. The focus is on family--immediate and extended. The focus is on relationships. I love seeing how close Sara is to her aunt, Margola. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED seeing their bond. And Sara also has a close relationship with her grandmother. This is without a doubt a character-driven story. And it packs a lot of emotion and intensity into its pages.

For better or worse, the Mama of the family--whom Sara LOVES--seems to have some big issues, unresolved issues from her past. And she's far from perfect. But just because she's far from perfect--in our eyes--doesn't make her any less loved by Sara or any of the rest of her family.

I could relate to Sara--her stubbornness, her sensitivity, her wearing her heart on her sleeve, her feeling emotions so deeply and intensely. Sara is the exact opposite of her mother in so many ways. But love connects them even if communicating by words--even actions--doesn't. I think that you could say they speak different love languages.

I'm not sure what I would have thought about this one as a child, but I could relate to it as an adult. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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