Tag Archives: jean blasiar

Communion by Jean Blasiar and Jonathan Marcantoni

Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

An excellently written story of a young girl that seemingly lost her ability to speak for some unknown reason at a very young age. The story begins in the 1930’s and takes place mostly in Ohio. Melanie and Edward Commons brought Gem home from the hospital in May of 1937. They had named her Gemini but due to the grandparent’s disgust of not giving this beautiful new girl a Christian name, they used “Gem” for her known name. Those grandparents, Abigail and Frederick Commons, especially Abigail, differed as to the name and, as it turned out, almost everything in the life of Gem from that day forward. Abigail turned almost anything negative when Gem was involved.

The younger Commons moved into the second floor of the grandparents house and the older Commons moved their things to the first floor. In some ways it made things hard living in an old house with squeaky floors and stairs, hearing all kinds of noises where activity occurred, including bedsprings! Edward worked as an assistant baker at the town bakery while Melanie was a part-time art instructor at the local high school and part-time as a free-lance artist. She was an excellent artist able to turn any subject into its actual appearance through her art abilities. Fred was great with Gem but Abigail tried to stay away and discourage any activity of Gem.

When WWII began, Edward wanted to enlist for two years in the military feeling that if he was drafted it would be for four years. The family was devastated when he left for the service. The care of Gem was changed immediately. The big problem being that when Abigail was around Gem, she acted like she could see right through her grandmother and from that point on she could not speak no matter who was around. Life went on with the family with Edward away while Melanie tried various sources to find out what might be wrong with Gem but no answer was found. The family received a letter saying that Edward was “missing” which devastated the family. As the war went on, Gem was placed in schools while her voiceless problem was still being researched, Melanie went to work in an aircraft factory but Fred was too old to work there, but the uncertain edge was still in everyone’s mind about the knowledge of where Edward was, if he was alive. Melanie continued her artistry which brought her employers interest asking her to draw certain things for the war effort with the first being a model of Betty Grable on an airplane.

Emmy Budd: The Real Dog is Harry by Jean Blasiar

Emmy Budd - The Real Dog is Harry by Jean BlasiarReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Move over, Nancy Drew–Emmy Budd’s here, to give you a run for your money, in another excellent mystery, the third one in Jean Blasiar’s Emmy Budd Mystery series, The Real Dog is Harry. She’s again joined by her best friend, T.J. Blake, and his new pet, a scruffy stray dog he names Harry, because it looks to him like his Uncle Harry. There’s excitement in the air right from the very first page of this mystery, with the tweens sitting in Jerry’s Malt Shop discussing a gruesome find unearthed on the property of a local farmer in Jerseyville, Hank Turner: a human hand. Who does it belong to? How did it get there? And why is the land so important that land developer Andrew McDonald would go to any lengths to put up a tavern on the part of the Turner farm he bought from the bank, when Mr. Turner couldn’t make a payment on time?

T.J. first sees Harry next to a statue of a man and his dog outside of the town’s library, and he thinks Harry looks a lot like the statue of the dog. He gets Harry to follow him by tossing the dog peanuts to eat, as T.J. rides his bicycle. Harry catches every one of them in his mouth. The dog makes appearances at key moments in the entertaining novel, and Mr. McDonald makes comments here and there about a dog who used to live on the land he bought. It made me wonder exactly what the relationship was, if any, between Harry and the dog McDonald speaks about, and it made me want to keep reading to learn more.

It’s summertime, and besides the usual summer fun of going to movies and riding bikes, Emmy and T.J. think about getting part-time jobs to earn some spending cash. When McDonald offers them both a job, they accept, though Emmy is reluctant, not liking Mr. McDonald’s surface kindness and fake Southern accent that gets more pronounced as he gets madder or stressed. She believes his kindness is a cover, to get the townspeople on his side so they’ll agree to his plans. Still, he says he’ll pay them well for their work, so she agrees, thinking that he’ll have them weeding his newly-purchased farmland.

Poor Rich by Jean Blasiar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Poor Rich by Jean BlasiarMeet Richard “Rich” Cameron, an asthma and allergy-plagued youth content with the status quo, living the life of a typical teenage boy. “Typical,” that is, if that also means your father is gay, your stepfather is homophobic, and your au pair is a drop dead gorgeous Miss October. But one thing Rich has going for himself is that he’s adjusted to the changes he’s had in his life, like his parents’ divorce, and he’s comfortable with his dad’s gayness, getting along better with Brain, his dad’s partner, than Steve, his stepfather. Poor Rich by the talented author Jean Blasiar is the genuinely warm and gently humorous coming-of-age story of Rich Cameron’s acceptance of his father’s homosexuality, and what happens to him when he outgrows his allergies, becomes more athletic, and tutors students after school in creative writing, finding that as he helps others, he, himself, grows as a person.

Poor Rich is told from the first person perspective of Rich, and as we read along, we get to know about him and share in the stress he experiences, the bullying and ostracizing he is often the victim of, and the happiness he feels at his successes, though even these moments are tempered with drawbacks. For instance, when the coach takes an interest in Rich because he has shown he can shoot free throws very well, and Rich becomes a member of the basketball team, which one might think is a good thing, Rich discovers that in many ways it isn’t. He makes a friend, Larry, who is on the basketball team, and gets accepted a little bit more by the other guys, but he also ends up being put into the game at crucial times to get fouled so he can shoot free throws so his team can win the game. This means that he gets banged up and eventually suffers a collapsed lung.

Emmy Budd Volume 2: Don’t Look Now by Jean Blasiar

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Emmy Budd Volume 2 Don't Look Now by Jean Blasiar“That man in the phone booth. He’s looking right at me again. Look someplace else.”

Emmy Budd is speaking these words to T.J. Blake as the two are planning on seeing a movie. In the small town of Jerseyville, Ohio in the 1950s where everyone knows everyone else, this stranger’s actions scare Emmy Budd.

What would a twelve-year-old do when there’s a strange man watching and following her? Emmy Budd is somewhat relieved when her best friend, T. J. Blake shows up and joins her. However, the twosome is not pleased when they are being followed and someone seems to be trying to run them down while they are riding their bikes.