My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**Venezuela finds her mother's journal... "Momma did you write this?"** "Yes. Yes I did. What you have there is the story of the summer before I went to high school, just the age you are now, or will be in a few months, and I was having a hard time. That was the worst time of my life....But then it was the start of the best times, too"
A Coming Of Age Story: Leticia/Lettie/Annie and Engelbert/Bert/Engie are brother and sister. They live in Boston with Joel, their alcoholic Dad. Gertrude, their mother, left when Bert was only 3 years old and Leticia was 7 years old. Gertrude now resides in Florida with her fiance Orlando: the pot smoking, over-eater, inappropriate PDA'er and kid hater.
Lettie's story starts 6 years later when "the Whopper", Candace Stopper (a school counselor) assigns Leticia to start a journal about her feelings of anger, towards her Mom, over the summer break.
"Grownups never learned anything from their failures. Take my father. He'd gone right out and started drinking again a few months after our mother left, even though that was why she said she'd have to go, or at least that was what He said she said. As for why she had to go alone, I couldn't say. I'd tried asking but adults didn't answer questions they didn't like."Lettie's only friend is Mayes, who has gone to her Grandma's in North Carolina over the summer. As Bert's permanent watchdog, and caregiver; she doesn't have any other friends.
She struggles being a kid and an adult at the same time because "Joel" is emotionally and parentally not there for her. She is very smart, very angry and very sarcastic. As a quirk she loves contranyms and tries to weave them into her conversations. She was also a chronic shoplifter.
Bert has a heart shaped mole in the middle of his forehead. He loves to eat clams, and is too young to remember his Mother. He is Lettie's little shadow, and always makes her laugh. He tries to be independent but usually ends up making a mess. Bert loves NASCAR racing, and the beach. He paints shells with Lettie and they sell them to tourists. Bert loves him Mom and fights against Lettie's beliefs. His best bud is a stuffed animal named Mousie.
Lettie writes about her and Bert's adventures over the summer, about her observations, feelings and hilarious ways of viewing the world. I loved her voice, her sarcasm of her situation yet she is strong and makes it though all her trials. Eventually she softens up when she learns the truth about her family and what family really means. I related to her since my own family situation was similar. It really sucks being poor, having to grow up too fast, and being punished for things you either didn't do or did for a cry of help/ retaliation. Bert was a compliment of Lettie's personality because he always saw the bright side of things and was more naive to what was going on. He was calm,loving, forgiving and kind to others.
**This book was the perfect story of a broken marriage and what really happens in the aftermath. People aren't instantly forgiving, they each have their own ways of coping and end up bitter, angry and miserable. The parents were selfish, and only concerned about their own pain/life. It was good to see that even through all of this everyone learned something.
Best of all, Lettie shared it with her own child Venezuela.
What do the Alligators mean?? I think it is a metaphor that the Alligators are the "negative emotions" and at the end.. the Alligators aren't there anymore. Plus Alligators are in Florida. Lettie and Burt almost get eaten by negligent parents, but they work together and made it...not to anyone's notice or care.
I was given a copy of this book by the author Kirsten B Feldman in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and quotes belong to the author.
Buy a copy at Amazon: No Alligators in Sight
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