This week I’m up visiting my parents in my hometown near Rochester, New York. Like most people my age, most of my childhood stuff (books, art projects, etc.) is now in storage in the basement. Over past several visits here, I’ve sorted through several boxes, making piles to donate or keep. This week, I found a middle school novel by one of my favorite childhood authors, Ann M. Martin, and decided to review it for a change of pace.

Here Today takes place in 1963 and 1964 and is story of the Dingman family, who live in Upstate New York. The oldest, Eleanor, or Ellie, helps look after her two younger siblings, Albert and Marie. Their mother, Doris Day Dingman, has dreams of becoming a star that sometimes interfere with her ability to be a proper mother. Their father, Mr. Dingman, is loving but has a busy work schedule. Meanwhile, the Dingman children and their neighbor children are bullied by their schoolmates for living on Witch Tree Lane, home of the misunderstood Witch Tree. But in November 1963, an unexpected event happens that changes all of their lives.

Historical events of this time period plays a large role in the story, the main one being the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Ellie and her classmates hear about the tragedy during school, and she and her family witness the aftermath through their television. Back then, television served as the main source of world events, and the novel portrays how most families spent the weekend after watching the funeral. It was interesting to see how the event was processed differently by Ellie, her peers, and her family, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of September 11,  2001, a life-changing day for people of my generation.

The story also includes several pop culture references of the 1960s, including The Mickey Mouse Club, and the Ed Sullivan Show. Having parents who grew up during this time period, I appreciate learning more about what it was like to live in that time period.

I recommend this novel because it tells an important story of family set during the backdrop of one of the most world changing events of the mid 20th century.

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