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How I Saved My Father's Life: (And Ruined Everything Else) [Hardcover]

Ann Hood
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 10.10 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439928192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439928199
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 14.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,560,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 13 May 2008
By TeensReadToo TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Twelve-year-old Madeline Vandermeer is on her way to becoming a bona fide saint. Oh, she's not religious or anything, and her family never goes to church, but she's already performed two miracles. The first was when she slid a glass of water across the kitchen table by only thinking about it. The second was when somebody called her name in the middle of the night, and she woke up with a terrible premonition that her father, on a writing assignment in Idaho, was in danger. After spending a day deep in prayer, she learned that he was one of only two people to survive an avalanche.

However, after her second miracle, everything else in her life goes downhill. Her father, now rich and famous from his harrowing experience, divorces her mother, moves into a posh apartment in uptown New York, and marries Ava Pomme, a sophisticated woman famous for her apple tarts. Soon, they have their own daughter, and Madeline and her little brother, Cody, are forced to travel between the two parents.

Madeline adores Ava and the feeling of once again being part of a family, if only for a weekend. How different Ava is from her own boring mother, who cooks disgusting food for her cooking column and embarrasses Madeline just by being there. If her mom hadn't been so ordinary, crying and scatterbrained over the simplest things, then maybe Madeline's father would have stayed. Determined to find some solace from her life, Madeline concentrates on ballet and her journey into sainthood, although that journey may not lead where she expects.

I absolutely gobbled up this book. Even though Madeline's treatment of her mother sometimes disgusted me, I found her reactions, opinions, and character flaws to be incredibly lifelike and endearing. Although I am not religious or from a divorced family, I found this book to be most enjoyable, and highly recommend it to any preteen girl.

Reviewed by: Allison Fraclose
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Being Saved 25 Feb 2008
By Little Willow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When Madeline's father was trapped in an avalanche, his daughter was miles and miles away. She was safe at home when she felt an inexplicable urge to pray for his safekeeping. Because he survived the ordeal, she becomes convinced that she saved her father's life and develops an unusual obsession for a kid her age: saints and sainthood. After her parents divorce, her obsession only grows. She blames her mother for the divorce and thinks her father is infalliable. Before the book is over, though, Madeleine realizes that he is only human, and that her mother has her best interests at heart.

In addition to being a future saint, Madeline is also a dancer. I wished the scenes on stage were detailed, to truly capture the experience and thrill of dancing. She has a quirky habit of taking off one shoe and working on her extension. (This is why she is only has one shoe on the book cover.) As a dancer myself, I felt the need to correct her when she commented upon another girl's field hockey legs and compared them to her thin legs, because, as a ballet dancer, especially one doing pointe work, Madeline would have developed strong legs with thick muscles, quads, thighs.

Partway through the book, Madeline befriends an interesting girl named Antoinetta. Antoinetta's house, always filled with relatives, noise, food, and plastic-covered furniture, was easy to picture.

There was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line early in the book that reveals the bulk of the story takes place a year after the divorce. As this line came just when characters were being established, it was easy to miss or misinterpret. The story and its characters would have benefitted from the inclusion of that transition period. Madeline's mother was occasionally painted in broad strokes. Thankfully, she is finally given more attention towards the end of the book.

Children of divorce can easily blame one parent and idolize the other, and it can hurt when parents can fall off of the pedestal lodged in their children's eyes. That was also clearly shown at the end of the book.

The descriptions of historical saints and miracles may make kids curious about other religions, but Madeline's quest for sainthood is far more about saving her family than saving her soul, making for an inoffensive journey which fits the character as well as the story's target audience. A decent story overall, though I ultimately wanted more.
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, agreat book!!!! 17 Sep 2010
By Nail Polish Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This was one of the best books that i have ever read. The way that the author brings you into the book is amazing. I like how Ann Hood makes the book like reality and makes athe ending the way you think its not going to end.
4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky and fun read 31 July 2008
By Teen Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Madeline Vandermeer decides to become a saint after she performs a miracle or two when she is 11. Her significant miracle (the other one involved moving a glass of water across a table by brain power alone) happens when her journalist father travels to Idaho by himself. One night during his trip, Madeline is awakened by a man's voice repeating her name. She falls asleep again to dream of snow in Idaho, and wakes up convinced that her father is in danger of being killed by an avalanche.

Madeline dresses and slips out to hurry to a Catholic church, where she prays for God to save her father. When she finally arrives home, she is greeted by the news that her father has survived a horrendous avalanche. From that moment on, Madeline is convinced that she is on an inevitable path to sainthood.

Her father arrives home a changed man. He seems depressed and says he needs to spend time working in New York. In fact, he becomes famous after writing about surviving the avalanche. For once, their family seems to be headed for financial stability. But then both parents break the news to Madeline and her little brother, Cody: they are getting divorced, and Dad is moving to New York City.

Madeline is sure that when she performed her big miracle, she also ruined the rest of her life. She is convinced that she can right this situation by performing just one more miracle. But in the meantime, as she writes letters to the Pope and befriends a girl in a large Italian Catholic family, she blames her mother for what has happened to the family. Mom is seriously depressed, barely coping, and bewildered by Madeline's sudden fascination with a religion foreign to her own family.

Madeline continues with her belief that she can fix everything by performing another miracle, despite the fact that her father remarries. His new wife, Ava Pomme, is a well-known gourmet tart baker, and they have a baby girl named Zoe. In fact, this new family, in Madeline's eyes, is a real family, while the fractured group of Mom, Madeline and Cody is no longer a family at all --- just an unhappy group who happens to live together. Madeline yearns to be a part of her father's family, who is unavoidably seen on television shows such as "Oprah" where the avalanche survival story is recounted repeatedly.

When Mom announces that the magazine she writes food columns for will send the three of them to Italy on vacation, Madeline's dad announces that he, Ava and Zoe will also be in Italy. Madeline and Cody spend vacation time with both parents --- and Madeline discovers the most unexpected miracle of all.

Madeline, Cody and their mother are appealing characters, and I empathized with Madeline's heartbreak and anger. Although some of the people in her life seem a little less well-rounded and a few story threads (such as Madeline's ballet) feel a bit flimsy, readers will be compelled to find out how Madeline's story concludes.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect book for tweens and teens 4 Jun 2008
By southernwriter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For those of us who've loved Ann Hood's novels, stories, essays, here's a book we can read along with our kids--daughters and sons! Yes, 12-year-old Madeline is a pain sometimes, but she's just not getting the respect she assumes she deserves for a saint-in-training. After all, didn't she save her father's life with her first miracle? But that was her other, perfect life. The one with two parents in the same house, not a father she visits occasionally with his new wife and growing new family. Ann Hood hits on just the right tone for a seething pre-teen who's taking her parents' divorce out on the parent she's living with (that would be her boring, writer mother who forces them to eat the healthy concoctions she's writing about for her magazine column). With a Nervous Nellie of a little brother, assorted, mostly nerdy friends, and a budding ballet career, Madeline is a character kids can relate to in a story perfectly written and resolved.
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 13 May 2008
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Twelve-year-old Madeline Vandermeer is on her way to becoming a bona fide saint. Oh, she's not religious or anything, and her family never goes to church, but she's already performed two miracles. The first was when she slid a glass of water across the kitchen table by only thinking about it. The second was when somebody called her name in the middle of the night, and she woke up with a terrible premonition that her father, on a writing assignment in Idaho, was in danger. After spending a day deep in prayer, she learned that he was one of only two people to survive an avalanche.

However, after her second miracle, everything else in her life goes downhill. Her father, now rich and famous from his harrowing experience, divorces her mother, moves into a posh apartment in uptown New York, and marries Ava Pomme, a sophisticated woman famous for her apple tarts. Soon, they have their own daughter, and Madeline and her little brother, Cody, are forced to travel between the two parents.

Madeline adores Ava and the feeling of once again being part of a family, if only for a weekend. How different Ava is from her own boring mother, who cooks disgusting food for her cooking column and embarrasses Madeline just by being there. If her mom hadn't been so ordinary, crying and scatterbrained over the simplest things, then maybe Madeline's father would have stayed. Determined to find some solace from her life, Madeline concentrates on ballet and her journey into sainthood, although that journey may not lead where she expects.

I absolutely gobbled up this book. Even though Madeline's treatment of her mother sometimes disgusted me, I found her reactions, opinions, and character flaws to be incredibly lifelike and endearing. Although I am not religious or from a divorced family, I found this book to be most enjoyable, and highly recommend it to any preteen girl.

Reviewed by: Allison Fraclose
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