Friday, July 6, 2012
Weird Steffi by Rita Traut Kabeto
This young-adult book is geared to the ages of approximately 13 to 16, a coming of age while attending school in a convent. The story takes place in 1950s Occupied Germany. Stefanie Saurling has three sisters and four brothers in a home that is two full and with a mother who is too busy. It is completely possible to feel lonely in a crowd, and this is how Stefani feels most of the time at home. She looks forward to going to school at the convent as a way of getting away from home and work. She soon learns that she will be working hard though not at home. Some of the girls are rather snobbish, and make fun of her, and of the girl in the next bed, also named Stephanie. This girl goes by the name of Steffi and Stephanie becomes Stef. Steffi is unusual, she is small for her age, is very quiet and timid, and worse yet as far as the teasing goes, has a menagerie of stuffed animals in her bed.
Stef and Steffi, as the odd-ones-out, soon become friends, and have mini-adventures whenever they leave the convent. Steffi has a secret. She sees things, wondrous things like fairies, gnomes, trolls, auras and other magical things, but she also sees the future. Unfortunately, her parents don't believe and think she is delusional. This is her last chance to avoid asylum living. She is also empathic, and feels death among the woodpile in front of the neighbouring house. What can she do? If she says anything, she will be sent to the asylum! She is sure there are two bodies buried there.
The two girls work out several plans and soon have another friend who assists them, a youth from the town. Their frantic search for help, their reliance on Willi, the tight rein of the nuns all culminate into a serious dilemma for the girls. What is the right thing to do? When they learn the word "clairvoyant" and the meaning, their lives turn around and they feel vindicated. This is an interesting and well-written story for young teens. It gives a new take on learning about your peers and what problems they may have in life and that everyone is different in their own way. I found the story enjoyable and it touched memories of feeling an outsider in my life of that age, too.