HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters
Author: Barbara Park
Cover Illustrator: Darryl Zudek
Publisher: Yearling, republished in 1990
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Park, Barbara. My Mother Got Married and Other Disasters (published in 1989 by Barzoi Books, an imprint of Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York City, NY). Eleven year old Charles Walter (Charlie) Hickle’s parents are divorced. He lives with his mom, but his dad has joint custody. Charlie is still dealing with issues stemming from the divorce, but his mom adds insult to injury, at least in his eyes, by marrying a widower, Ben Russo, who moves in with his two children, teenage daughter Lydia and five year old son Thomas. Charlie must share his room with the seemingly bratty Thomas. What will Charlie do about all these changes? Can he learn to cope with them? Or will he just leave and live with his dad?
This book is a sequel to author Barbara Parks’s Don’t Make Me Smile (1981), in which Charlie’s parents get divorced, and is told from Charlie’s perspective, supposedly “in perceptive contemporary language…with humor and emotion.” The language contains quite a few common euphemisms (geez, golly, gee, heck, and darn). Toward the beginning, Charlie notes that his mom “was saying the ‘s-h’ word.” Do kids really need to know that? On one occasion little Thomas says, “da**it,” but he is punished for it. Charlie tells us that he himself “said a cuss word.” And the term “God” is used a couple of times as an exclamation.
All through most of the book, Charlie displays a rather sour, sorry attitude towards a number of things, although he eventually gains a better perspective, and it ends on a hopeful note. Several reviewers remarked that this is a good story for those dealing with blended families and stepparents or for those wishing to understand the feelings of people involved in such circumstances. It is not a bad book and might be useful for such a purpose. My only comment is that it greatly saddens me that our society has devolved to a point where authors of children’s literature feel the need to discuss these kinds of situations in stories for kids.