Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The View from Saturday

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The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

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Thanks to a comment from some friends of mine, I picked up The View from Saturday at the library a couple of weeks ago. The book came up during a discussion of Sharon Creech, and I have to say, I'm very glad that they recommended the book to me. It does have the same sort of warmth, simplistic style, and depth that I find in Sharon Creech's works.

The View from Saturday (a Newbery Award winner, and deservedly so) is about a group of four sixth-graders who form a trivia bowl team and take the victory for the entire school. They beat the seventh- and eighth-graders before moving on to the regional championship, and that championship takes place on a Saturday. During that day, we learn more about the four sixth-graders, their homeroom teacher and coach, and what it means to grow up. It's a touching, beautiful story, and one that will raise a smile on the faces of the most hardened cynic.

One of the hard things about writing a review of a good book is that I don't always know what to say. When I read a bad book, I know why it was bad: poor characterization; bad narrative; awkward pacing; or an unengaging plot. In a good book, much of the style and craft of writing is hidden beneath the surface, and the reader is never realy aware of reading a book; in fact, the book is carrying him along like driftwood in the tide.

What I do know about The View from Saturday is that the characters feel real. I cared about them, what happened to them, and what happened to their loved ones. I rooted for them, laughed with them, applauded their victories, and wanted to know more about them. They were the underdogs, but what they had learned about themselves and about each other allowed them to triumph.

The View from Saturday is a wonderful book. If you have kids, encourage them to read it, and read it along with them. If you don't have kids, read it for yourself. In a world of fiction full of despair and nihilism, it's refreshing to find a book so innocent and honest, and so real and effective all at once.

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May 12, 2006 - Posted by | Juvenile Fiction, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. I love The View From Saturday and have read it over and over. I didn’t always love this book, however.

    The first time I read it, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, probably because I was trying to decide whether to include it in a middle-school book club. The book shifts from one narrator to another throughout; there are at least five narrators whose stories interrelate, and I was sure that would confound most middle-schoolers. I also tried to imagine my street-smart big-city middle-schoolers relating to the nerdy country-bumpkin sixth-graders and the paraplegic sixth-grade teacher who are the book’s protagonists; it was impossible to envision any connection between my students and the characters in this book.

    Several months later, I decided to try reading The View from Saturday again, reminding myself, “Suspend disbelief. It’s fiction, after all,” and that did the trick. Yes, the narration shifts can be disarming and the characters are quirky, but that is precisely what makes The View from Saturday so charming.

    Strangely enough, I decided to use the book with my seventh-graders after all, and they LOVED it. Even the strange multi-narration style that shifts from foreshadowing to flashback throughout the story was not too hard for them after they got used to it. This book, like everything I’ve read by E.L. Konigsburg, is great for all ages.

    Comment by Katrina | November 16, 2006 | Reply


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