Reading Log: May Bird and the Ever After by Jody Lynn Anderson
Again, this is part of Becka's doing. It was on their dining room table one day when I went over to take Lucy out for a walk. As I got further into the story, I expected it to have an ending, then I'd decide whether to read more. But little did I realize that this is the first in a trilogy, and I might not know how it comes out.
Apparently there are four different portals to the Ever After, one of which just happens to be in the forest behind May's house in Briery Swamp, West Virginia. May Ellen Bird is somewhat of an outcast at school, and consequently spends a lot of time playing alone with her cat, Somber Kitty, as her only companion. Then she finds a letter in the abandoned post office dated 1951, but addressed to her. In it, the Lady of the North Farm asks for her help, and May finds herself unable to resist the urge to find out more.
May certainly holds appeal for any reader who has felt alone in a crowd, anyone who doesn't quite fit in with their social group. She is also a flawed character, tending more toward comfort and safety than "doing the right thing" and defeating the larger evil. Like any of us, she wonders how she, a mere child, can bring down the Evil Bo Cleevil who is threatening to destroy the Ever After.
I enjoyed the book thoroughly. May initially rejects Pumpkin, her house's resident ghost, because of his looks. Later, she realizes that he's there to help her, but she first thinks of him as something dangerous because he's different. She learns how to make better judgements about people (in this story, usually ghosts and specters) based on their actions rather than looks, and develops a certain compassion that she might not have had earlier. Anderson's writing is very clear, and usually not condescending, though I did think I was in for another Lemony Snicket when Anderson described May's cat prior to Somber Kitty: "She knew there could never be another Legume [the cat], which, by the way, is another word for peanut." That mechanism was amusing in Lemony Snicket, but got old even there. Fortunately, if that situation appears again in May Bird and the Ever After: Book One I was too engrossed in the story to notice.
I probably won't be actively seeking out the next book, but if Becka just happens to have it, well, I might just be inclined to read that one also.