Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald

I used to think that it was an Orphan Edge. There was a large, white, one-room house full of cots lined against the walls that sat out on the edge of town where children went if they didn’t have parents or their parents couldn’t stand them any longer. I grew up in South Dakota where we heard the horror stories of buffalo being run off cliffs to their brutal demise. That’s what the Orphan Edge was to me! Just an edge ... like a huge cliff and if you went too long out in the house without being adopted, you were simply sent, en mass, over the Edge.
My mother would threaten to send me out to the Orphan Edge if I didn’t straighten up, and that didn’t really seem like a viable option to me. Although there was a lot of singing and dancing going on out there (what else are you going to do while you are waiting to be thrown over the Edge like a herd of naughty buffalo?), I knew I was not nearly as talented as Annie and Oliver and I couldn’t even be chosen in the top ten for dodge ball, so clearly there was no way I was going to be chosen by a new family after being cast away from another one!
It’s funny, too, how much of what we believe when we are children still holds a special place in our minds long after we learn the truth. So it will forever be the Orphan Edge to me. And I know what goes on out there!
The Irresistible Henry House is a story inspired by an actual occurrence in these United States between 1919 and 1959: Practice babies! No kidding! They used to pull babies from the Orphan Edge and loan them to Home Economics schools. They lived in Practice Houses and were raised by several mothers at a time! After a year at the Practice House, they would be sent back to the Orphan Edge where they were considered “lucky” to have had such a head start and would probably be adopted before the less fortunate orphans.
The fictional Henry House was one such baby.
This coming of age story takes us through Henry’s life from his birth in 1946 up to his promising young adulthood in the late 60’s. Filled with interesting pop cultural references and colorful details, the story of Henry House is a roller coaster of emotions for the characters and readers alike.
I felt both happy and sad while reading it and it inspired thoughtfulness and creativity within myself. Not a classic by any means, I think The Irresistible Henry House would make an amazing, fun motion picture in the right hands and I, for one, will definitely go see it!!
I wonder if there will be singing and dancing?

1 comment:

gerald said...

Very funny Becca!