Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


****The Exiles at Home

by Hilary McKay

Reviewed September 1, 2003.
Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster), New York, 1997.  First published in 1993.  200 pages.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #4, Children's Contemporary Novels

After I read and loved Saffy’s Angel, by Hilary McKay, I ordered several more of her books via  I’m glad I did!

You don’t have to have read The Exiles to enjoy The Exiles at Home, but it does again deal with the four Conroy sisters, Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe.  Their antics in this second book are even funnier.

At Christmas, each of the girls gets ten pounds from Big Grandma.  In a moment of weakness, Ruth rashly decides to spend hers to sponsor a boy in Africa.  Once she comes to her senses, she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that there won’t be any more and he’ll have to stop going to school.  So now she must find a way to come up with ten pounds every month.

She doesn’t want to tell her parents, but gradually her sisters get involved in the money-making schemes.  For some reason, all of their plans seem to get them in trouble.  The most innocent of all is gardening for an old couple, but after awhile they no longer have the heart to take money from such nice old people.

Hilary McKay is brilliant at making quirky, hilarious, delightful characters.  The blurb on the back of this book told me that she was the oldest of four girls in a family devoted to books with an engineer father, so I’m more convinced than ever that her family was similar to mine (if not as big).  I like the part where they babysit a toddler and teach him to make messes so that they will still be needed.  Here’s a thoroughly fun family story that kids of all ages will enjoy, especially girls in upper elementary and middle school.

Reviews of other books by Hilary McKay:
The Exiles
The Exiles in Love

Caddy's World
Saffy's Angel
Indigo's Star
Permanent Rose
Caddy Ever After
Forever Rose
Lulu and the Duck in the Park
Lulu and the Dog from the Sea
Lulu and the Cat in the Bag
Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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