Monday, December 9, 2013

Anastasia Krupnik

By Lois Lowry. Published in 1979.

The orangutan poster in the background is creepy,
but it's actually in the book a couple of times,
so I'll take it. 

I love Anastasia! I love her, her parents, her brother, her house, her goldfish Frank, her lists, and her wart, which she also happens to love. I think she’s one the most original characters in the YA world.

Anastasia Krupnik is ten, and lives in an apartment in Boston, Cambridge to be exact, with her parents Myron, a professor of literature and a poet, and Katherine, a painter. They shall henceforth be known as Awesome Parents, because they are.

For Creativity Week at school, Anastasia has to write a poem. She is very excited about it, but finds it more difficult than she thought it would be. She works on it for eight days, and when she’s finished, she thinks it’s wonderful:

hush        hush       the sea-soft night is aswim
             with wrinkesquirm creatures
                                                        listen (!)
to them        move        smooth        in the moistly dark
               here in the        whisperwarm        wet

This does not go over very well with Mrs. Westvessel, her teacher. She does not appreciate the lack of capitalization and rhyming. She gives Anastasia an F. Awesome Parents, however, love the poem, and her father changes the F to Fabulous.

Anastasia is fucking pissed, y’all. Awesome Parents are going to have a baby. She thinks Awesome Mom is too old at thirty-five. Awesome Mom says it’s the prime of life. Anastasia argues that ten is. I don’t know, she may be right. She says she’s moving out. She packs her bag, but Awesome Parents convince her to just stick around until closer to when the baby’s born. And if she is around then, she can name the baby. Anastasia goes back to her room, unpacks, and writes down the most terrible name she can think of.

Anastasia decides to become Catholic. There are a lot of them in her class, and she gets to add a new name to hers. That’s the main selling point. She decides on Anastasia Perpetua Krupnik. She talks it over with her friend Jennifer, who says she’ll have to get a dispensation since she’s so old, and missed her First Communion wearing a wedding dress. Then she’ll have to take catechism classes. Then she’ll be Catholic. When she tells Awesome Parent about her plans, they find it “both interesting and preposterous.” When Anastasia learns she’ll have to confess all her secret bad thoughts, though, she decides that’s pretty much bullshit, and calls the whole thing off.

Anastasia is in love. With Washington Cummings, who is two years  older, black, and has enormous hair. These facts do not matter to Awesome Parents, they’re more concerned with her grammar, and who her mother was in love with when she was ten. They have a small, awesomely adorable fight about it.

Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t know Anastasia exists. She decides to make her hair as much like his as she can to attract his attention. She sleeps with her hair in braids, and the next morning, brushes it up instead of down. It’s a blond Afro. However, when Washington sees her, he just laughs and makes fun of her. She dejectedly buys shampoo, goes home “sick”, and washes it out.

Anastasia hates Thanksgiving. She hates the parade, the football games, and pumpkin pie. She also doesn’t like having to talk to her grandmother. She is ninety-two, and has Alzheimer’s. She hopes her dead husband, Sam, might come for dinner. She makes Anastasia’s heart hurt, and it’s not funny at all.

Anastasia’s trip to sit in on her father’s class, however, is. She dresses in her poet outfit, a black turtleneck and straight hair. She’s pleased to see the students are dressed in various forms of poet outfits, as well. She wishes she had Frye boots, though. Me too, Anastasia, me too.  She’s a little surprised that they’re smoking in class, but as Awesome Dad is smoking a pipe, I guess it’s alright. The class is analyzing Wordsworth’s “I Wandered as a Lonely Cloud.” One kid calls it a crock of shit, then apologizes for saying that in front of Anastasia. Awesome Dad says it’s alright, he’s sure she’s heard it before. Anastasia giggles, thinking that the last time she did was that morning from Awesome Dad himself. I just love that this whole exchange happens in a YA book. On way home, Anastasia and Awesome Dad have an interesting conversation on the futility of life and the inner eye.

Anastasia has separate conversations with Awesome Parents about their love affairs before they met each other. They’re just so open and honest with her, it’s fabulous.

Anastasia decides she has a mercurial temperament, and wants to be in the delivery room when her brother is born. Until Awesome Dad tells her she can’t, it’s against hospital rules. Then she gets quite pissed off, yells that she was almost ok with the whole situation, but now she does not like the baby at all. She storms off to her room, and looks at the name she wrote down. That name? One-Ball Reilly. Anastasia is amazing.

Anastasia loses her wart and her grandmother on the same day. She and Awesome Dad go to the nursing home to pack up her things, and they decide she was thinking about the stars and Sam when she died. As they’re finishing up, a nurse comes in to tell them Awesome Mom just called, and the baby’s on its way. Anastasia thinks everything’s happening at once, and wonders if her wart caused it.

Alone in the apartment, Anastasia looks at her brother’s things, and decides One-Ball will be helpless being so small, and begins to come around to the idea of him. When she goes to visit him, she decides he’s not a bad baby, and then that she really likes him. And she changed her mind about his name. It will be Sam.

No comments:

Post a Comment