That Wild Berries Should Grow is another of Gloria Whelan's earlier novels. This one was published by Eerdman's in 1994. I tried to find the same image that graces the cover of the library copy I read, but alas, it was unavailable on the web. Once again, I would have to say that Gloria Whelan has written a book which is well-worth reading.
I suppose the description of the book hooked me because it tells the tale of a young girl who must leave her life in the busy, exciting city of Detroit, to spend a summer improving her health by living with her grandparents in the country, in a cottage beside Lake Huron. This book is like a romp in the country. It is a leisurely stroll through one girl's summer and how her attitudes change towards life in the country. Not much in the way of plot, but many of the passages are just beautiful to read. Each chapter begins with a poem.
The book appealed to me on other levels as well. Elsa's grandparents are German, so the book has smatterings of German words and phrases throughout. My maternal grandmother was from Germany and my mother spoke a bit of German while we were growing up. So, when I entered high school and needed to select a language to take, I chose German. Then, I took German again in college and finally a brief amount while studying for my master's degree. I should be able to speak it, right! Nicht so gut! Ein bisschen.
And one more personal observation: In one of the final chapters, Elsa gives a description of her grandmama, prefaced with a beautiful poem. I won't quote the whole poem, but here are a few key lines I must respond to:
I shadow her, surprised
at what her clever hands can do,
thankful for her silence,
for sometimes when she speaks
her words are sour as
Her bread dough swells
and puffs and browns
to perfect loaves,
my grandmother touches
with her hands
undoes her angry words.
Ah, a cold hard German woman! At the end of the chapter devoted to Grandmama, Elsa remarks, "Whatever had made Grandmama angry in the morning had disappeared into the clean clothes and the bread and the garden and the jars of perfect peaches." So, my response? Well, I think today I have been a cold, hard German woman. Like Elsa's Grandmama, I have been full of anger. I suppose this wouldn't be a bad thing, if I could harness Grandmama's productivity as well. Alas, I get the German anger but not the productivity or hard-working drive!