Wait Till Next Year
We meet the people who influenced Goodwin's early life: her father, who emerged from a traumatic childhood without a trace of self-pity or rancor and who taught his daughter early on that she should say whatever she thought and should bring her voice into any conversation at any time; her mother, whose heart problems left her with the arteries of a seventy-year-old when she was only in her thirties and whose love of books allowed her to break the boundaries of the narrow world to which she was confined by her chronic illness; her two older sisters; her friends on the block; the local storekeepers; her school friends and teachers.
This is also the story of a girlhood in which the great religious festivals of the Catholic church and the seasonal imperatives of baseball combined to produce a passionate love of history, ceremony, and ritual. It is the story of growing up in what seemed on the surface a more innocent era until one recalls the terror of polio, the paranoia of McCarthyism reflected even in the children's games, the obsession with A-bomb drills in school, and the ugly face of racial prejudice. It was a time whose relative tranquillity contained the seeds of the turbulent decade of the sixties.
Reading Group Guide
- Like millions of Americans, Doris was caught up in the glory days of baseball in the 1950s, exhilarated by the Dodgers' victories, and pained by each and every loss. Individual players became her heroes, as well-loved and respected as family and friends. How important is it for people -- particularly children -- to have such heroes to look up to? How can we feel such a strong kinship to people we have never met? Are sports figures the best role models? What lessons can athletes teach us about life?
- Doris's parents each pass on their own special gifts to their daughter. Through baseball, Mr. Kearns teaches Doris the importance of telling a story slowly, building the drama to a powerful crescendo. Through reading, Mrs. Kearns demonstrates the beauty of a well-chosen word, and how a good book can take you away to places you might otherwise never go. Discuss how these gifts complement one another and how they came together to make Doris the historian and wordsmith she is today.
- In the 1950s, most fathers did not take their little girls to baseball games. How did you respond to the female point of view in this book? Did you see Doris as the son her father never had? Or was she an extension of his sister, Marguerite? What does Mr. Kearns' relationship with Doris provide that he missed during his tragic childhood?
- Although her childhood was marked by the untimely death of her mother, Doris