Book Review: The Canning Season

by Melissa on February 9, 2010 · 0 comments

in 10-14, ATOS 5.0-5.9, Family & Relationships, Lexile 800-899

Title: The Canning Season
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Author:Polly Horvath
Lexile: [?] 870L
ATOS Level: [?] 5.6
Parent Rating:
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Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
Go For Ages: 14-17


One night out of the blue, Ratchet Clark’s ill-natured mother tells her that Ratchet will be leaving their Pensacola apartment momentarily to take the train up north. There she will spend the summer with her aged relatives Penpen and Tilly, inseparable twins who couldn’t look more different from each other. Staying at their secluded house, Ratchet is treated to a passel of strange family history and local lore, along with heaps of generosity and care that she has never experienced before. Also, Penpen has recently espoused a new philosophy – whatever shows up on your doorstep you have to let in. Through thick wilderness, down forgotten, bear-ridden roads, come a variety of characters, drawn to Penpen and Tilly’s open door. It is with vast reservations that the cautious Tilly allows these unwelcome guests in. But it turns out that unwelcome guests may bring the greatest gifts.


Note: This book is often considered a children’s book (and shelved as such in libraries and book stores), but the publisher lists it for Young Adults.

This is not a children’s book, more appropriate for YAs.  It is both poignant and shocking (language, graphic details).  An unusual view of life and family. Right on the line to get a ‘pause’ rating, so check the content if you have concerns.


Level 1, 2, 3 [?]

Sexual Content

Word use: fornication


Women frequent a bar (from the age of 17), several kinds of alcohol drunk. Grown ups get drunk. Adults and teens smoke cigarettes.


Mother throws a fit in the hospital, claiming to ‘throw bits of placenta around’ ’til she got her way. A mother kills herself by cutting off her own head-some detail and description of daughter finding head. Wonders why she didn’t just use a gun to kill herself.  Quite a bit of talk about people getting killed by bears in the woods.


Man acts as if being born `a bastard scarred him for life!’ `She was so well wanted [by men] that she was pregnant.


Zen Buddism mentioned. `Can there be any real accidents? Musn’t we trust in some kind of design to it all?’ Woman unhappy with all the `God stuff’ in the Book of Common Prayer. Divorce is a ‘mortal sin’. `Jesus Christ’ used as an expletive.

Note: You can click on the key words or categories to see more info, by author, age or topic.

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