Book Review: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

10 July 2012

"Let's start a club!" suggested Randy.
"Oh, look at all the clubs we've had already," Rush said. "The Mystery-Solving Club. The Tropical Fish Collectors Club. The Helping-Cut-Down-the-Electric-Light-Bill Club. What ever happened to any of them? They were all the same. Mona was always president and we never had more than two meetings."
"But this one will be different," persisted Randy.
The Saturdays

This book is the most charming thing in the history of children's literature. Last summer Momma found the audio book at a homeschool book sale and brought it home because she had heard it was good. Out of curiosity, we put in in the CD player while folding laundry one Saturday morning . . . and the rest, as they say, is history. We listened our way through The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, and The There Were Five in the course of just a few weeks. Laundry, kitchen cleaning, and the like were suddenly brightened in our eyes because they meant time with the Melendys. Now we own hardcopies of the books as well, and often refer to Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver in our many conversations. After a long vacation from these delightful folks, we resurrected the CDs again this summer, and once more our kitchen is abuzz with the Melendy adventures.

Ladies and gentlemen, you're in for a real treat.

The Saturdays
By Elizabeth Enright
*Summary via Goodreads.com

Meet the Melendys! The four Melendy children live with their father and Cuffy, their beloved housekeeper, in a worn but comfortable brownstone in New York City. There's thirteen-year-old Mona, who has decided to become an actress; twelve-year-old mischievous Rush; ten-and-a-half-year-old Miranda (nicknamed Randy), who loves to dance and paint; and thoughtful Oliver, who is just six.

Tired of wasting Saturdays doing nothing but wishing for larger allowances, the four Melendys jump at Randy's idea to start the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club (I.S.A.A.C.). If they pool their resources and take turns spending the whole amount, they can each have at least one memorable Saturday afternoon of their own. Before long, I.S.A.A.C. is in operation and every Saturday is definitely one to remember.

My Thoughts: I have always held with the belief that the beginning of a book is the most important part, because those few words decide whether the reader will continue on or close the volume in favor of another. From the start of The Saturdays, I felt like a close friend of the Melendys who wanted to be their family member. Everything about these children is open, natural, and friendly. The cliche mold of a broken relationship between siblings has been used one too many times, and I was delighted to come across siblings that genuinely enjoyed spending time together. From start to finish, Ms. Enright's book was more than enjoyable, and I was glad to know that the book was only the first in a series of four, because I wasn't ready to bid the Melendys farewell.

Oh, and by the way, I just love Rush. "What about strange policemen?" *grins* If you've read the book, you know to which scene I am referring and why that quote it so funny. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to read this book.

Pros: The children are memorable, intelligent, and original, and you can't help but fall in love with them from page #1. The dialogue is so natural it's like listening in on real children talking, and it also has the charming, old-fashioned feel of the 50s. Though literal references to the Bible and Christianity are not present, and the Melendys never called themselves Christian by name, Mr. Melendy is very much the leader of his household, and the children live by a strong code of morality. As a mark of their respect, the first thing the Melendys do after forming I.S.A.A.C. is to ask their father if he approves of their new plan (which he does).

Cons: During Randy's Saturday, Mrs. Oliphant (a family friend) tells her a story of how she was kidnapped by gypsies as a young girl in France. The reason Mrs. Oliphant was in such a vulnerable position was because she snuck out of the house against her father's wishes (she is repentant of this afterward). Mona chooses to spend her Saturday in a manner of which she knows her father and Cuffy would not approve.

Rating: 6 out of 5 stars (it's just that good *wink*)
I recommend this book for ages 8+

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
"Well, you're good kids," said Father. "There never were any better ones. Cleaner, maybe, or quieter, but never any better." — The Saturdays

6 epistles:

  1. I'm definitely going to have to pick this up at the library. It looks lovely!

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  2. I love this book (and all the sequels) to bitty bits. Have you read Spiderweb for Two, the last one?
    Rush is definitely my favorite character. No question about that. :D "Why are you holding your head up out of the water like that? And why are you grinning in that goonish way?"
    Those books are just so hilariously quotable. And no, of course I have not read them so many times that I could practically recite most chapters verbatim. *innocent look*

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  3. Gwen — Yes, you must! You will love it tremendously. :)

    Amy — I have read Spiderweb for Two, but I didn't like it quite so much as the others, being that Mona and Rush were all grown up. :/ I have an unfortunate habit of getting attached to children in books and wanting them to stay small forever. Of course, when it's a matter of books, I can always go back and read the earlier ones. *grins*

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  4. I absolutely LOVE Elizabeth Enright!! Her books are so wholesome and wonderful!!

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  5. Oh, I know just how you feel! I did enjoy Spiderweb for Two, but it irked me that Rush and Mona barely appeared. Mona hardly seemed like herself anymore (where was Shakespeare???) and how dare Rush's voice change! Of all the nerve!
    I did, however, like the fact that Oliver got a little more time in the spotlight in that one. He's rather overlooked in the other books, which is a pity.

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  6. GASP! I need this book. (Or, should I say: books.) I've never read anything from E. Enright, but I've heard of her from other friends. I think it's time I dive in to some of her works. Just found out my library has her books, so I'm in luck! {Thanks for linking up on my blog, Elizabeth!}

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