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
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