Locus Focus: Take One Hundred!
Well, this is shocking . . . ;-) This time last year, I thought about ending Locus Focus forever with Take Ninety-Nine, but it turns out that all I needed was an eleven-month hiatus. LOL! It's nice to be reminded of this blog's roots again--kind of like the characters in the books I'm going to be featuring all month. Last week, China got to be the first setting for my Mothers' Birthplaces challenge. And of course, today I have something as different from it as possible . . .
BSC#5: Dawn and the Impossible Three
by Ann M. Martin
I've only lived in Connecticut for a few months. Until this past January, I lived in California with my parents and my younger brother, Jeff. But last fall Mom and Dad split up, and Mom decided to move back to the place where she grew up. Her parents still live here. So right after Christmas, Jeff and I were uprooted from hot, sunny California and transplanted to cold, sloppy Connecticut, where (so far) it's never been warm enough for me.
. . . I'm still not sure what the big deal about New England winters is is all about. Back in California, we had one season: summer. I thought it was wonderful. I loved the beach, I loved sunshine, I loved eighty-degree Christmases. Why, I wondered, would anyone want to interrupt all that warmth with three other seasons?
There is a real Stoneybrook in Connecticut, but the Stoneybrook of the Connecticut of Ann M. Martin's Baby-sitters Club series is completely fictional. And for the purposes of this analysis, also archetypal.
When BSC member Dawn Schafer's parents get divorced, her mother decides she needs a fresh start. And what better place to get that than the one in which she got her original fresh start (i.e., birth)? Mrs. Schafer may not move back into her actual childhood home (which might be too dramatic, you know?), but she does find a nice property that was built in 1795 and that Dawn affectionately calls the "new-old house." Still very fitting--inasmuch as Dawn's move to Stoneybrook has the qualities of both a new chapter in her own life and a flashback to a time before she was born.
We all get what it means when a character who has failed at something in the big world returns to his hometown . . . but what does it mean when a child whose parent has failed at something in the big world has that less-than-triumphant homecoming? In Dawn and her brother's case, it's not so much a return to their roots as it is a severing of them.
It may be Martin's own sense of this that ultimately made her leverage Dawn's split soul into a spin-off series: The California Diaries. Although I've never read any of these West-Coast-set novels, I'm willing to bet that Dawn spends as much time in California wishing she were back in Connecticut as she does in Connecticut wishing she were back in California. It's a near-perfect metaphor for what happens to children when their parents get divorced.
Question of the Week: Have you ever visited your own mother's birthplace?
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Image Source: BSC #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin