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Margaret Smith
Toronto, Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1994. 216pp, paper
ISBN 0-02-954254-5 (paper) $9.95. CIP

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13

Reviewed by Janet McKinlay

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

Margaret Smith's second novel, Margy Misunderstood, the sequel to Margy¹, follows the further adventures of Marguerite Stratton. In Margy, when Margy's stepmother stated "either she goes or I do," thirteen-year-old Margy was sent from her father's farm in Manitoba to Bancroft, Ontario, to live with her two elderly aunts. This first novel followed the many adventures of Margy as she settled into her new life. Her relationship with her aunts was rather stiff and formal, tainted by her father's parting words: "Don't let them treat you like a servant, Margy. They think they're such almighty fine ladies." The reader got only an inkling of the love that the two aunts bore for Margy, only child of their beloved sister.

In Margy Misunderstood the loving relationship between Margy and her two aunts is further developed and is a major strength of the novel. After a year, Margy has established a contented life with her aunts and has built up many friendships. She is enjoying Bancroft and all is going well until disaster strikes. During Christmas vacation the Christmas Cheer money that the students had collected for a needy family is stolen from their teacher's desk.

Before she knows it, suspicion is cast on Margy, the new girl, the outsider. Despite the fact that the "evidence" is pure speculation, Margy suddenly finds herself ostracized by her classmates, her friends and most of the community. During her "Lonely Time" Margy suffers despite both the love of her aunts, who are convinced that given time, her innocence will be known, and the loyalty of the one friend who does not desert her. Even a new dog of her very own does not completely ease her isolation. When Margy accidentally finds out who did steal the Christmas Cheer money, her situation does not improve but only becomes more complicated.

Based on real-life adventures, Margy Misunderstood is a well-written and compelling novel for young people. With warmth and humour Margaret Smith captures the life and atmosphere of small-town Canada in the 1930s. In both novels, the characters are well developed. The reader laughs and cries along with Margy and her adventures; she is a most appealing hero. Anyone who loves the Anne of Green Gables series will be equally drawn to the adventures of Margy. I hope Smith has a third Margy novel in the making.

Highly recommended for public and school libraries.

Janet McKinlay is a teacher-librarian at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary in Vancouver, British Columbia

¹ Reviewed vol. XXI/1 January 1993, p. 55.

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