One of the personally most important books that I have read is Sydney Kendall’s novel A Turn for DeWurst. I read it with my youngest daughter; its theme, plot, and character helped establish a solid foundation for real fact based dialogue between my daughter and I on the value and methods of education.
The drama of the novel brings uncomfortable facts about public education to the forefront in a way that they can neither be evaded nor accepted as in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, these facts are well known to parents from their own experience in public schools and the experience of current students, but for the most part parents and children are not openly and honestly talking to each other about them.
In addition, as a work of romantic fiction, the novel through its characters and their choices demonstrate a correction, not a reform, to the cause underlying the problems in today’s public schools. Yet, throughout, the book is full of benevolent passion and love for education and the developing lives of children.
In general, the novel is a wonderful story of many rich characters confronted with challenges and making choices. The young reader will see dramatized how some of the choices foster life and others corrupt it. The novel includes both children and adults who act as heroes in normal real life circumstances of school, but also both children and adults who choose to act as villains.
While I have purchased more copies of this book than any other and given them as gifts, the best testimonial for this book comes from my youngest daughter now grown. Many years after we had read the book together, my daughter told me that she wanted to name a future daughter Astrid specifically after the main character of A Turn for DeWurst ; what a wonderful legacy of a heroine to give to the next generation.
Fifteen books that I have read that will always stick with me