The first time I read this, I thought I'd never read such a natural, gifted writer who can write about a overbearing mother and living through the depression with ill-equipped parents with such depth and sweetness. Reading it 25 years later, and I'm someone who rarely reads books twice, I felt as if I didn't want it to end again. So delightful even though the book is an account of living through the Depression and scarcity with parents who are seemingly idiots. The author's mother made me understand a bit more about what my own mother went through with her overbearing mother, who has similar stories but I never really understood what it meant to have a mother who lives through her daughter during a time when women were so limited and had little recourse, as well as means or ways to escape.
This book is such a treasure. If you like to read period books to completely escape the time and place where you happen to be at the moment, where everything seems so intense and urgent, this is such a wonderful escape. Yes, you get to relive the depression through the eyes of a little, curious, daughter with dumbass parents but with a fascinating extended family and adorable friends, in the culture of 1920's and 1930's Oregon, where life seems idealized until you open this book. Being female a hundred years ago is like being in family jail, and if you have a family like this author's, there's no furlough. The Depression sounds horrific but being female with a crazy mother might be worse. And all of it is rather lovely, I have to say, if you live it through Beverly Cleary's writing.