Julie by Catherine Marshall

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Catherine Marshall is famous for her novel Christie. I don’t want to review it here because it has won so many awards I have to believe everyone who reads Scriblerians is fully aware of the beautiful story. A true classic.

But are all of you aware of her other novel? Julie? She only wrote two, and Julie was published after her death.

Based on events in Catherine’s young womanhood, Julie Wallace is the eighteen-year-old daughter of a pastor who has left his position to become a newspaper publisher in a small, steel-working town during the Depression years of 1934-35. The challenges that follow in their new life also force Julie to evaluate her understanding of God. As tempers rise within the town and as danger approaches, Julie will discover just how strong her faith is–or is not.

Pros

  1. Julie makes for a great YA read. While conflicts abound, Catherine Marshall makes sure the story is wholesome.
  2. The best realistic fiction places readers so deeply in the story they feel they “are there.” Julie, like Christie, does that.
  3. The message of faith and family as most important runs through the entire novel.
  4. Pastor Wallace’s deep faith provides an excellent balance to Julie’s questions regarding her own.
  5. The details in the flood scene are amazing! Based on the Johnstown Flood of 1889, Marshall uses her research to create a similar flood from a dam break. Those details remain vivid in my memory thirty years after reading the book!

Cons

  1. Many readers don’t like the love triangle. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s a secondary plot to moral questions regarding the greed of steel mill owners versus the downtrodden union organizers. Besides, competing suitors do arise in real life. Julie is not mature enough to handle the situation perfectly, which is why the book is so realistic and why readers identify so well with Marshall’s characters.

Discussion Questions

  1. Julie always wanted to be a writer so she is thrilled to have a job with her father at the newspaper. What would be the perfect job for you?
  2. With the problems between the steelworkers and the mill owners getting worse, Julie and her father had to make some difficult decisions as to what was the right thing to do as they wrote for the newspaper. What would you do if powerful people tried to stop you from doing what you knew was right?
  3. Terrible things happened during the flood. And wonderful, heroic actions happened, too. What do you think you will remember most about the flood?

 

The setting of the newspaper business in a town struggling with union issues provides fodder for much family discussion on ethics and morality. Talking about your family’s value system and how it relates to the world is one of the most precious teaching opportunities you can provide for your children. Julie is one tool you can use in those discussions.

 

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Linda Samaritoni
Writing as Linda Sammaritan (easier to pronounce than Samaritoni), Linda has her feet firmly on the ground and her mind reaching for heaven. Each day is an adventure on her journey with Jesus. After a career teaching middle-graders, Linda loves to write contemporary stories for the same age group. She also loves to jot down spiritual ideas within metaphors. Check out her other blogs at www.lindasammaritan.com and www.puttingonthenew.com.

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