Book Twentytwo: The Great Brain

The Great Brain, John D. Fitzgerald

I have such affection for the Great Brain books that I was almost worried about rereading them. In mind they were the ultimate stories that I treasured above all others and I now wondered if I was just crazy or remembering them wrong. But I'm happy to report that the first one, at least, is as lovely as my memory of it. What I didn't recall was the fact that the books take place in the hotbed of my all-time favorite religion. Yes, Mormons! But the Great Brain and his family aren't Mormons, they are just surrounded by them in their small Utah town. But that doesn't mean we don't get to learn a heap of cool things about Mormons. Also, how can you not love the fact that it takes place at the turn of the century? So there are horse-drawn wagons and farms and outhouses (until the Fitzgerald's get the town's first water closet) and hand-churned ice cream and schoolhouses and crazy kids games and everything else my young heart idealized. And each chapter is a little adventure in the life of the Great Brain and his brother, the narrator, J.D., very much in the spirit of Tom Sawyer. And perhaps I'm pushing it, but while these are super YA novels, they also hold up great as well-told stories for adults. At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself as I inevitably reread this entire series.


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