It is 1935, and eleven year-old Turtle’s only parent, her mama, has found a live-in housekeeping job that doesn’t allow children.Luckily, Turtle is strong and doesn’t flinch when her mama tells her she is sending her to go and live with an aunt she has never met down in Florida.Turtle is tough and doesn’t cry; she has been let down too many times before by the men who come courting her mama to let things upset her. She does dream of a “Daddy Warbucks” coming along and changing her life like Little Orphan Annie, but she doesn’t think she will get her Hollywood ending. After the long drive to Florida and the ferry ride to Key West, she and her cat are ready for some comforts and a good meal. Unfortunately, when Turtle finds Curry Lane, the address her mom gave her, the house looks tiny and worn. The snotty boy sitting on the front steps doesn’t make things any easier.Then, her aunt is so shocked to see Turtle standing there that it is clear that her mama’s letter explaining everything hasn’t arrived yet. After a rough start, Turtle begins to settle into Curry Lane. Florida sure is a strange place and she can’t get over walking barefoot, the strange names for everything, and the intense heat. She learns the ways of her ancestors and hangs out with her three male cousins and their friends, who are part of The Diaper Gang. They won’t let Turtle join because she is a girl, but they let her go with them when they walk their wagon taking care of cranky babies. Still, Turtle is determined to earn some money so that she can see her mama sooner.Will she find a job or a way to make money?What will happen when she meets her long lost grandma who hates children? Is there any way that Turtle will get to see her mama again?Is there a Hollywood ending in her future? You will definitely root for Turtle all the way and will be captivated by the twists and turns of her life.
I would recommend Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm to anyone who enjoys historical fiction in grades three and up. I was lucky enough to listen to the audio of this wonderful book narrated by Becca Battoe. She did an excellent job capturing Turtle’s spunky, sassy, and strong personality. The variety of voices for the different characters helped the book come alive for me. I loved the references to old movies, actors, and comics from the funny pages. This book reminded me how hard the Great Depression was for people and how brave kids needed to be during that time. I know I would have a difficult time leaving my family to live with relatives that I have never met. I could easily connect to Turtle and enjoyed her personality and amusing comments. She is someone I would like to be friends with because she is so refreshing and says what she thinks. I'll tell you one thing- she is no Shirley Temple! This was a heartwarming story with lessons that ring true for all of us. I only wish I had more time with Turtle and her fascinating family.
Has anyone else read Turtle in Paradise? Or have you read another book by Jennifer L. Holm?