Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote - A Review

A Christmas Memory

Author: Truman Capote

Illustrator: Beth Peck

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: First published in 1956. Audio book published October 28, 2014

About the Author
Truman Capote was born in 1924 and died in 1984. Based on his own boyhood in rural Alabama in the 1930s, A Christmas Memory was originally published in Mademoiselle in 1956 and later was included in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

"As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”  
Truman Capote remembers a cherished Christmas in the 1930s. Young Truman is 7-years-old and lives in a home with a family of distant and elderly cousins in a small town in Alabama. 

Truman's best friend is his cousin Miss Sook Faulk. She is in her sixties but is child-like in her ways. She calls Truman "Buddy", in memory of a boy who was formerly her best friend. The other Buddy died in the 1880s, when he was still a child.

Sook's first Christmas tradition of the season is making fruitcakes. When Sook happily exclaims, "It's fruitcake weather," Buddy knows that Christmas is not far away. Even though they have very little money, Sook is able to collect all the ingredients she needs to make delicious fruitcakes. Queenie, their beloved dog, is their constant companion.
“It's bad enough in life to do without something YOU want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want THEM to have.”   Cousin Sook
 Sook is good at stashing away a little pocket change  but there is no money for gifts. Sook and Truman make handmade gifts for each other. They decorate a Christmas tree with handmade art work. 

Favorite Quotation
“My, how foolish I am! You know what I've always thought? I've always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don't know it's getting dark. And it's been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I'll wager it never happens. I'll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are, just what they've always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” Cousin Sook
My Thoughts
This is a classic Christmas story that is appropriate for children and adults. The theme of this story is friendship and love, the greatest gifts of all. Young Truman cherished his handmade gift from Sook and the wonderful times they spent together more than anything money could buy.

The last two pages of the story are poignant and heart-wrenching. Like life itself, time moved forward and things changed. I don't usually like stories with sad endings (especially when dogs are involved), but the end came in a way that accentuated the love and joy that Truman remembered from his past.

This was the last Christmas that Truman and Sook had together. Truman was sent off to military school, poor Queenie was killed by a neighbor's horse and Sook's health declined. But the memories lived on. 

Highly recommended for all ages. 

MY RATING - 5 Stars Out of 5

FYI - I purchased a print copy of this book from the quarter shelf at a Friends of the Library Sale. This book includes a CD narration of the story but I have not listened to it.

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