Thursday, April 3, 2008

Look Through My Window by Jean Little, Illustrated by Joan Sandin

One of the first reviews I ever wrote was of Jean Little's Look Through My Window - also one of the first novels by Jean Little I read. I can still remember exactly where I was and how I felt as I read this story of friends, change, and growth. This was written when I was about fourteen!


Look Through My Window, a 258 page novel, is written by Jean Little. Published by Harper and Row in 1970 and illustrated by Joan Sandin, this story of friendship and change is available in most libraries.

The main characters are Emily Blair and Kate Bloomfield. Emily is the first person the reader is introduced to. Her life is predictable and “normal” until her aunt becomes ill. After many changes Emily becomes a different person, strong and confident. Her friend, Kate, is a confused and sometimes bitter girl, sure that she is unwanted by her family. She too changes as the story progresses. The novel is set in a small town in Canada and the mood is hopeful and dreamy, although the reader is often given a feeling of confusion when reading about Kate’s problems. The conflicts range from Emily and her mother’s struggles to adjust to life with four boisterous children, to Kate’s questions about life and God.

The plot begins with Emily coming home and finding the apartment she and her parents live in empty. Her mother and father come in and everything happens at once; Kate’s aunt is sick and someone must care for her children during the summer. Suddenly, Emily finds herself in Riverside, Canada. She makes friends with Kate and is pulled into a world she has never known before. They write poems and talk together, enjoying a wonderful friendship. Then Kate tells Emily she is Jewish. After many discussions about life, religion, and prejudice, they decide they’d rather be friends, even if they hurt each other, than casual acquaintances.
The climax, such as it is, comes when Kate tells Emily that her father is Jewish. This event marks a turning point in their friendship and helps them know each other better. Running throughout the book is the theme of friendship; what it costs and how important it is.

This book is a pleasure to read, although it often goes beyond mere entertainment when Kate asks questions about who she is and what she should believe. Because she is a young girl still learning about life, Kate rarely answers her questions. The novel is a wonderful story of friendship and life, told through the eyes of a young girl as she experiences strange changes and new friends.

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