Bitter in the Mouth. Linda Hammerick grows up in Boiling Springs, NC, but she is an alien. There is always something different about her, and she never quite fits in.
For one thing, Linda is a synesthete; she tastes words. "My first memory was a taste. For most of my life I have carried this fact with me not as a mystery, which it still is, but as a secret....There was something bitter in the mouth, and there was the word that triggered it"(15).
Here is an example of Linda's hearing/taste condition:
"When my teacher asked, 'Linda where did the English first settle in North Carolina?' the question would come to me as "Lindamint, where did the Englishmarachinocherry firstPepto-Bismol settlemustard in Northcheddarcheese Carolinacanned peas?" (21).
Synesthesia is not, however, Linda's only difference, and there are mysteries that she doesn't understand about her relationships with her family and the community.
My favorite character is Linda's Great-Uncle Harper, a retired librarian and one of her two best friends. Her other best friend is Kelly, with whom she exchanges almost daily letters even at seven years old.
I love the way Uncle Harper classified his own books:
"His books were shelved in alphabetical order but not by titles. A for "Acerbic," B for "Buy Another Copy as Gift," C for "Cow Dung, as in This Stinks," D for devastating," E for "Explore Further, F for "Foreign" (foreign meant that my great-uncle couldn't relate to the characters in the book, not that the author was from another country), and so on." He had, according to Linda, 26 categories!
A beautifully written book with lots of little mysteries about herself and her family that Linda only discovers fully as an adult. I was surprised the book was only 282 pages, I felt it was so much more! In the best possible way!
Fiction. Southern Fiction/Coming of Age/ Family Relationships. 2010. 282 pages.