Book Review: Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Okay, this is a really short book, and I feel sort of like I’m cheating by including it in my 52 books list. I mean, come on, it’s 87 pages. Still, I had to read it for school, so damn it – I’m counting it!
Title: Seedfolks (GoodReads)
Author: Paul Fleischman
Page Count: 87
Genre: Literary MG
A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha’s heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil’s dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
Thirteen very different voices — old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful — tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.
To be honest, I did not think I would enjoy this book. The pictures on the cover looked childish, and the idea of a bunch of strangers coming together to plant a garden just seemed sort of, well, boring. I was pleasantly surprised while reading it, though. I got sucked into stories and found myself wanting to know more about the characters. I loved how at first Ana thought Kim was doing something illegal and how she eventually learned the truth. I especially loved that we saw that scene without receiving a lecture such as “Gee, I guess I was wrong to judge her before I got to know her.” We get that message, of course, but it is more subtle, which makes the book interesting to read.
I liked that this book touched on a bunch of different problems that people have to face, whether that problem is the fact that you cannot understand anyone around you, or if you are pregnant and do not want to be, or if you lost the woman you love and cannot find a way to get her back. The author did not go into too much detail about each person’s problems, which I felt worked for this story. We do not get bogged down with too much detail about anyone; we learn just enough to feel sympathetic.
At the same time, I sort of wish we could see the characters a little bit more. I mostly just wanted to see Kim’s reaction the first time she realized that other people were planting things in the garden. I also had a hard time keeping track of all the names. Whenever one character referred to another character by name, I had to go back through all the chapters to figure out whom he or she was talking about. Other than that, I enjoyed this book, and I can understand why people would want high school students to read it.