The writer shares many facets of the lives of many different people of all walks of life. After reading the stories I realized that there was a common thread throughout the book. The author shares the relationships, the friendships and bonds formed and others that were broken or lost. The hard lessons that we all learn, the consequences that we face when we fail to sometimes confirm to the rules and what others expect of us in order to survive in this world whether as an adult of a child.
The book opens with a simple statement: In the beginning: It tells of the lesson learned by a young girl dealing with her own identity self-esteem. Adults and children often feel that in order to fit in they have to change their look, personality and way of thinking to conform and be accepted even if they are fine the way they are. The first part of the book is titled Early. It tells of the early life and beginnings of a young girl named Crei and the friendships she formed and the ones that she lost. Family is important to her and yet she is depicted as an outcast in her own world. Smart, intelligent and heard through the voice of the writer of these stories, Crei learns many hard lessons in this first part of the book, which I call Survival. This is a story of one girl’s journey through life. Her name is Crei and she tells her story, allows the reader to come into her life, understand her triumphs, defeats and heartbreaks in this inspirational, heartbreaking, heartwarming and outstanding novel, Storytella. As the story opens we meet someone who is telling the world that she has little or no self-esteem. The author brings to light this very important issue in the prologue. This character sets the tone for the book when she states that in order to fit in she has to look cool, chic and change the her total appearance and she does.
As we enter the body of the book this theme does continue and many other issues arise as well. Crei is a young girl who comes from a poor family. Within the neighborhood where she lives are families and people of many economic backgrounds who often flaunt their wealth, their feelings of superiority and make her feel unworthy to be around them. But, not her best friend Cody, whose family is wealthy but that is their only plus. Being rich does not make the person or make you better than someone else. In Part One of Crei’s journey we learn that Cody’s family is not one that any child should be part of. Although rich and able to have many of the luxuries that Crei might never have, her mother and aunt treat her in an abusive manner whenever the whim hits them to beat her for any slight infraction, is unconscionable and unwarranted. Yet, Cody’ mother Mrs. Kelly and her Aunt Rooge are fair to Crei. Crei really does love both of these women yet parents back then as even now punish their children in the same manner. The antics that they pull and the schemes that they come up with to run away, clean Crei’s clothes in the drier and many other wild things they do lets the reader know how far these two would go to show their loyalty to each other as friends.
Continuing in Part two-titled Mid Afternoon entering another part of her life, we see how she has grown in some respects and stays the same in others. When Cody leaves Crei is really sad and wishes her friend were still there. We meet and get to know the people in her neighborhood and the various scenes that the author describes helps us understand the difficulties this young child faces when she has no one to defend her and no one to befriend. Taking over where Cory left off, she learns to speak out and up for herself and Crei now lets her voice be heard. Made to apologize to a neighbor for doing something she never said or did, she retaliates when in food shopping with her mother and sister and lets the reader know that from now on she will be her own force to be reckoned with. There are numerous lessons and issues highlighted. Learning to deal with lies told about you by adults is not easy for a young child. Her retaliation lets the reader know that she is a force to be reckoned with and that her feelings count. Including a story called Jagged Edge dealing with a young girl’s relationship with a boy helps young adults learn the pitfalls we sometimes fall into when we first think we have met Mr. or Ms. Right.
Part three, Midday, enters the world of education and the author does not present it in a positive light. As an educator I do know that in the past and certainly more prevalent today there are many teachers that do not have the passion, the love and knowledge to want to educate our children. Educating our children is a privilege for the teacher and not a right. Children are not paychecks that we get on a weekly or monthly basis and the sad part is that many educators do work for that merit pay or that quick promotion even though their real goal should be reaching out to their students and making them knowledge hungry as our young aspiring writer was in the story two stories irrelevant and The Vagabond. This last one reminds me of a young wandering child who is trying to find her way into the world of Literature and the classics and as a vagabond moves from place to place in our educational system and due to the lack of encouragement cannot find a permanent home.
The next part is called Evening. The author then goes on to teach Crei and her new friends the many pitfalls of marriage, army life, dealing with difficult relationships, the hardships that life can befall you and more. Living on a limited amount of money and having to hope that you are able to feed your child and your family, Crei, her husband Royce learn that life is not always what you would like it to be. With friends that have much more than she does and others even less, Crei has one thing that she can always count on: Royce and his love for her. I think that everyone would love to go shopping and fill a cart or a dressing with every item they want or desire. The story Wish List lets us know that we cannot always have everything we want but it can be fun trying.
Part Five is called When Night Falls and it seems like a dark shadow falls over the world that she lives in and needs to be lifted. She expands on the way the relationships of the people where she lives; their spouses, the girlfriends and wannabes learn more difficult lessons in life. Throughout it all Crei’s friends should have learned that she is loyal, smart, understanding and always tries to make things come out right. But, sometimes friends like Diamond never learn. The author even shares what happens when relationships among the friends become more intimate and change. You need to read this for yourself to decide how you would feel living there.
Part Six is called Crack of Dawn. In this part there are many different writers, voices and people who are heard. The voice of Crei is heard as she succeeds in getting a well -deserved job in a bank, but is she going to be happy? You decide after reading the story Head of the Class. What happens when a 911 operator for calling yells someone at in an emergency? What happens when a group of workers decide to teach a new employee a lesson and have it backfire on them? What would you do if you got locked in your office and could not get out? Why is Mrs. Murphy so distraught about her money and what do you think she really did with the funds? Why does Mr. Smothers get what he deserves? There are so many lessons learned Part 6 that you will only appreciate them if you read these stories for yourself.
I really loved the one with Mr. Kraup and the doctor in Part 7 called Autumn Again. That was hysterical. How often do we go to the doctor and are we asked,” Why are you here and why do you need to see me?” What Mr. Kraup does to Dr. Klein is priceless and you have to read to know that sometimes doctors need to be put in their places and remember why they became doctors. From a story about a son feeling he has the right to his mother’s inheritance, to a woman who reaches out to young girls to teach them social graces and give them a better life, author RYCJ has shared with the reader some heartfelt and thought provoking stories of real life and the many truths we need to face.
The last story comes full circle with the issue of relationships among young women who are unmarried and are deciding how to meet the right man. This is just the opposite of Part Four where we learn about the many relationships and pitfalls of the army wives, including Crei.
The author sums it up so perfectly in the epilogue. When she states that teachers are supposed to reach children in many different ways with lessons that will open their hearts and minds to learning. Working students that are reluctant learners is a real challenge and needs to be addressed not pushed aside. The class of 6249 got it right. Read the book to find out why.
Using the parts of a day as a way of delineating her ideas the author shares the hopes of a young child in early, what happens when she is older in Mid Afternoon, Coming into her own in Midday, Dealing with adult life in Evening, Crack of Dawn which refers to early morning or the early part of their careers and Autumn Again where the world takes on a different look from Spring and Summer and life as the leaves begins to change.
Reviewer and author of Memories are Precious and the Bertha Series of Children’s Books and Book Review
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