A Season of Gifts was my first encounter with proclaimed author Richard Peck, and supposedly it’s not his finest work, but I enjoyed it just the same.
A preacher’s kid named Bob Barnhardt and his family move to a small southern town. The family isn’t welcomed all that warmly, and they learn that they are living next to the town kook: Mrs. Dowdel. Over time, Mrs. Dowdel plays an integral part in their being accepted into the town.
The book is brimming with Southern expressions and culture of the 1950s. Richard Peck has a tremendous voice as an author and a fantastic sense of humor. For example, here’s a line from the book: “The sorority was Iota Nu Beta, which some people said stood for I Outta Know Better.”
The one criticism of the book is that it is much more character driven and not action driven. There is no definable climax. Though the novel is character driven, the protagonist, Bob, is a very bland character and not as fleshed out as some of the others. In fact many of the other characters, such as Ruth Ann, Phyllis, and Roscoe Burdick make a much more dynamic transformation and were much more interesting characters. And then there was Mrs. Dowdel who is just such a larger than life character and known to be one of Peck’s greatest.
Overall I really enjoyed this book!
After discussing Season of Gifts, we did two writing exercises. Last class we created a character. Today we had to describe that character’s hands. It was a fun way to get your brain rolling.
Next, she let us write for 20 minutes straight and our only job was to create a scene. I love, love, love what I got out in those 20 minutes. It was suspenseful and mysterious and filled with strong imagery. They loved my first sentence which was:
Jane felt safe when she had sweat rolling down her back.
Jane actually isn’t the character’s name. I substituted for now. It won’t be any chore at all to revise/polish it up and maybe expand on it a little!
I’m kind of tired because I was up til 1:30 last night working on schoolwork, but I was having a blast doing it, so it’s all good!