Book Review|Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

Up A Road Slowly

By Irene Hunt


“It happens the world over – we love ourselves more than we do the one we say we love. We all want to be Number One, we’ve got to be Number One or nothing! We can’t see that we could make ourselves loved and needed in the Number Two, or Three, or Four spot. No sir, we’ve got to be Number One, and if we can’t make it, we’ll rip and tear at the loved one till we’ve ruined every smidgin of love that was ever there.” 


Newberry Award Winner Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt is a coming of age story. Julie is seven years old when her mother dies and she is sent to live with her maiden Aunt Cordelia in the country. The story is told by Julie in first person, and follows her life until graduation from high school. Aunt Cordelia is kind but strict.

Up A Road Slowly has been compared to Anne of Green Gables and it does have a similar tone. Julie has a love of literature, a touch of dramatic attitude, and a fondness for quoting poetry, but her struggles are different from Anne’s as is her situation. The story is a journey of self-discovery that starts with a moment of tragedy. Julie does have moments of wit, but in general I would say this is a more serious book than Anne of Green Gables.

Up A Road Slowly was published in 1967 but the feel is somehow old fashioned, perhaps because the setting of Julie’s upbringing is the country rather than town. Julie’s overly dramatic teenage angst played out quite authentically.

I do not remember reading this when I was a teen or preteen, but would recommend it to any girl who liked Anne of Green Gables. I liked it enough to pass on a copy to my teen daughter.

Issues of Concern (contains spoilers)

Julie is unkind to a cognitively delayed girl, Aggie. Julie later comes to regret her treatment of Aggie. While the attitude of Julie is rather self-centered, this story is told from the point of view of a teen and through a conversation with Uncle Haskell who we already know is not the best role model. When reading this book, this may be something to point out to young readers and follow with discussion about the attitudes and statements of the characters regarding Aggie. There is use of the ‘r’ word as description of Aggie book as was typical in this time period.

Uncle Haskell is an alcoholic who doesn’t work or contribute to the family but has his moments of redeeming behavior.

There is insinuation of a classmate’s unwed pregnancy.

Aunt Cordelia tells Julie that loving someone more than yourself produces maturity and understanding of what love truly means, a message that a woman needs to love a man to complete her. I feel this may need explanation to young readers, extending the topic to discuss how giving of oneself does, in fact, bring maturity and purpose.

This book reflects the values and beliefs of the time before the 1960s. I was not turned off by these instances but felt they accurately reflect this period of history.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jaselyn Blanchard. The recording was well done as was the reading and performance.

Other books by Irene Hunt

Across Five Aprils

Trail of Apple Blossoms

No Promises in the Wind

The Lottery Rose


Claws of a Young Century

The Everlasting Hills

This post linked up at

Booknificent ThursdayCozy Reading Spot, The Book Nook, Literacy Musing Mondays, Waiting on Wednesday

© 2015, Donna Stone. All rights reserved.


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful review. Sounds like an interesting novel for teens.
    I’m your neighbor at the ‘Booknificent’ and the ‘Cozy Reading Spot’ link-ups. : )

  2. It’s funny that you mentioned Anne of Green Gables so quickly, because as soon as I read the name Cordelia that is what I thought of, Anne. I might have to add this to my list, as I tend to enjoy that era of writing. I hear you about nuances that we see as inappropriate today but are necessary to fit an era or rather genre of a book. We need to be opened to the ideas of the book and use them as points to discuss especially with young readers. It’s such a great way to use Literature to help open up reality and why certain behavior is better than others. Thank you for sharing with the Cozy Reading Spot!


  3. Thanks for sharing your insightful review at The Book Nook at Create With Joy! Even though this falls into the category of classic children’s literature, this is my first introduction to the book also. What struck me as I was reading your review was that this would be a wonderful educational opportunity to raise awareness and sensitivity and discuss with one’s children how attitudes have changed over the decades towards people and situations.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. This is a fantastic review, and I will definitely be looking into this review. I really appreciated your warnings as well as your recommendations! Thanks so much for sharing at Booknificent Thursday!

  5. I read this in 1974 when I was 12 years old. I loved it and I could not remember the title of the book when I was older. I finally looked through all of the titles of the Newberry award books and as soon as I saw the title, I knew immediately this was the book that I had loved!
    Thank you for the review I am going to buy this for my teenage daughter.

    1. Hi Laurie! I’m glad you were able to find the title. That has happened to me and it can be maddening. I hope your daughter enjoys the book. Mine did, although she didn’t want to admit it. Teens.
      Happy reading.

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