Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Jackie by John Tammela

Jackie, by John Tammela
2013, 328p, Memoir
My Rating=3 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Find out how boys had fun in the 1930’s and 40’s…

Jackie was an average kid growing up in a Finnish household in Niagara Falls, Canada in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He had two older brothers, Eric, who picked on him, Armie, who was great at building forts and battle games and an older sister called Liisa, who was a bit too keen on “schooling” him.

In this true story, you can join Jackie on his adventures as he deals with the pains of growing up, from the terrors of the school nurse to the pangs of his first crush, with a good few snowball fights thrown in for good measure. Well, after all, it is Canada – the land of ice and snow!

Last year, I read Caddie Woodlawn with my children so I thought this would be similar to that and would be fun to read about a boy who grew up in Canada in the 1930's and '40's. I won't be recommending this like I do Caddie but parts of it were interesting. We enjoyed the story where he became king, when they played war games, and their various snow adventures. We learned about his relationships with his siblings and friends and how he overcame some of his fears. We also enjoyed the map sketches so we could see where he lived and where his adventures took him. At the end, I would have liked a little more explanation as to where the family wound up.

It was wordy at times and lots of details were given that didn't seem necessary. We had a super long chapter towards the end and didn't have much time so I skimmed over it and summarized it for my kids and my daughter later told me that was her favorite story since some of them were hard for her to follow, so they would have liked it better if the stories were more to the point.

I'm glad I didn't just hand this over to my children to read. There were a couple of disturbing parts. He was in the hospital when he was young and his nurse gave him a sponge bath. He described how he enjoyed it when she washed his private parts. Towards the end, there's a story where he's playing hide-and-seek and the granddaughter of his neighbor takes him to hide under the porch where she encourages him to feel her thigh. In a book like this, stories like that seem completely unnecessary to me. Because the first story was so early in the book, I did find myself reading it more cautiously in case there were other parts like that and that probably tainted my overall enjoyment of this book.

About the author:
John Tammela is a retired teacher who taught in the Elementary and Junior High School system in North York, Canada until 1989. Throughout those years and since, his interests which include: archaeology, drawing and painting, orienteering, carpentry, skiing both cross-country and downhill, camping, and hiking have provided enrichment.

He now resides in Ottawa where he finally decided to begin a new career that had been waiting for his attention since he wrote a few short stories for his two children, Tracey and Jonathan. What has resulted is an account of five years in the life of a little boy meeting the challenges of growing up during another time.


Unknown said...

Those scenes would bother me as well! Thanks!

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