There are three authors whose writings greatly influenced my life when I read their books earlier in life: Madeleine L'Engle, Catherine Wooley, and Lenora Mattingly Weber.
A few days ago as I sorted out books in the School library I pulled Beany and the Beckoning Road by Lenora Mattingly Weber off the shelf. First of all, I had to smile because I don't think any student would check this out, and no one had. But long ago, I enjoyed these books and they formed my perception of what life would be like.
By the time I started reading Lenora Mattingly Weber, she was writing a series about Katie Rose Belford, so I only read the last few books in the Beany Malone series. I was captivated by the thought that Beany could think Carlton couldn't stand her, and he ended up being in love with her! It was so romantic, but unfortunately...not very realistic.
Katie Rose was a character I could identify with: large family, pining for someone unattainable, unsure of herself. Weber gave her stories enough twists and turns that the reader could never really predict what would happen. The most heartbreaking twist was that the boy Katie Rose always pined for ends up falling for her sister Stacy. That would be very difficult and had more of a realistic tone.
One of the interesting things about the character of Katie Rose was that she made friends with a new student, Miguel, and never considered him romantically. He was always there for her but she never gave him a second thought until much later in the series. That has never been my experience, but I have read of it happening to others. I'm afraid I always put people in categories and they don't really move from friend category to romantic lead category, which probably was to my loss. Weber makes you root for Miguel to get the girl and for Katie Rose to take off her blinders and see what she is missing. I believe she does towards the end of the series, but I didn't care for those books as much as the earlier ones. They had an odd flavor to the writing, too modern for me, like one of those troubled YA books that tend to make me uncomfortable as I read.
The character of Katie Rose's sister Stacy was an interesting one, and later Weber made her a main character in some of her novels. I liked her much better as a minor character, always getting in trouble and rebelling against the status quo. One of her punishments was to write: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. This phrase has stayed with me over the years. Latin fascinates me much more as an adult than it ever did as a student, butI digress, that is a subject for another day.
When I tried to reread these books I had once loved, I couldn't read them anymore, they were just too bittersweet, I wanted to read something less realistic. I was once told by someone that I enjoyed being sad because I liked sad love songs, movies that made me cry, books that tore at my heart: not anymore. Before your heart is broken it seems romantic, afterwards it is a cuts a little too close to the bone.