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Which Casson Family Book is the Best? August 9, 2011

Posted by ccbooks in Debate.
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With the UK publication of Caddy’s World, British author Hilary McKay brings her series of books about the Casson family to an end. Now that Ana and I have both read the latest (Thanks, Libby for ordering it and then lending it to us!) we can start the debate about which book is the best. Ana can start.

Ana: Saffy’s Angel is my favorite book, and I think it’s the best because it has the most focused plot, and the best story with quirky little asides that enhance the book rather than being the main focus of the book.It has a couple of really deep themes, like family, belonging, and identity, and I think it manages to say a lot about these issues in an interesting, funny and relatively concise way.

Cecilia: Permanent Rose is definitely the funniest book. The character David is responsible for much of this comedy, as he tries to figure out how to be friends with the Cassons. The moment when he sees Saffy naked, when Saffy and Sarah laugh at Bill’s website and when Rose accidentally ends up in London with Caddy all illuminate character traits while being laugh out loud funny.

Ana: Indigo’s Star is, of the six books, one of the weaker ones. The best part of the book is undoubtedly the introduction of Tom and the way that the reader gets to see the Casson family interact with a stranger. In Saffy’s Angel, we got to see very little of the rest of the Casson family; we knew they were there, and they were all funny and sweet, but the book really dealt with Saffy and Sarah. In  Indigo’s Star, we get to meet the rest of the family and see the way that they take in a stranger. We, as readers, particularly like it because it gives us the feeling that we could be Tom, and that this is the way the Cassons would treat us if we got to meet them. Unfortunately, McKay tries to stuff a little too much into the book. She tries to juggle back-stories, plot, characterization and themes, and she doesn’t quite do it successfully. The book rambles a bit and can be kind confusing.

Cecilia: I think we both agree that Caddy Ever After is not the best of the series. It’s the first time that McKay tries to write in the first person instead of the third person and each section is narrated by a different Casson sibling. While the chance to hear about the same event from different points of view is amusing, it also makes the book difficult to follow and some of the new characters introduced (Oscar and Alex, primarily) are not that engaging. The teacher Miss Farley and Rose’s friend Kiran however, are keepers.

Ana: Caddy’s World is the latest Casson book (although it is a prequel) and I can’t remember everything about it, so please bear with me. I didn’t think it was the best book by any means (although that was partly because it had so little about the other Cassons) but neither was it the worst. Despite my initial disregard for Caddy’s friends, I ended up really liking them. I also loved the tiny pop culture references that she threw into the book. However, it was very difficult to match up Caddy’s twelve-year-old personality in this book with her extremely different personality in the later (earlier) books. The lack of continuity in her character was slightly annoying. In addition, I don’t think the themes of Caddy’s World were as strong as the themes in some of the other Casson books.

Cecilia: Forever Rose  is the book that I think is best at getting inside Rose’s head. McKay again uses the first person, but since it only focuses on Rose, it’s a lot easier to follow. Two years have passed since Caddy Ever After and I think the strength of this book is how you can really see how time passing has affected and changed each member of the family. Rose’s relationship with each of her siblings has changed somewhat and she comments at one point (remembering when they used to ride bikes together and she would shout at them to wait) “They always turned back then, however much of a hurry they were in, but I do not think they can turn back now.” Poignant and so true.

Ana and Cecilia: Regardless, one thing the books all share is fantastic ending lines. So we leave you with the following quotes (since Cecilia at least, has the habit of reading the last page of a book first) and hope that if you made it this far in the post, you will check out this lovely series.

Saffy’s Angel: “Caddy put the box down on the grass and took off the lid. Inside was the little stone figure that had come so far. Caddy lifted it out and stood it carefully in the sunshine. “Look!” she said. “Look at Saffy’s angel!”

 Indigo’s Star: “Rose did not say any more. But she and Indigo stayed out a long, long time, wishing, and watching stars, the steady ones and the ones that passed with red and green lights across the sky.”

Permanent Rose: “Why did you call me that? Why did you? Did you mean it for a joke?” “No” said Eve at once. “No Rosy Pose. Really…I really meant it for…”

“What? Tell me.”

“A promise” said Eve.

 Caddy Ever After: “Appendix Three: What Happened to Caddy. CADDY BURGLED ALL MY POSTCARDS FROM MICHAEL AND DISAPPEARED”

 Forever Rose: “But also there are jokes, friends, adventures, and homes. And these things will help you through the long paragraphs, lonely patches, perils, and even problems with as many heads as dragons. To live Happily Ever After. Which is exactly what I intend to do Forever Rose.”

Caddy’s World: “Don’t worry, he’ll love you” said Rose.

*Many thanks to Libby for getting those last two quotes for us!*

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