Willie would like life to go back to normal, but his parents are committed to keeping the bigger store and using the profits to give Willie's sister, Amanda, a chance to be the first family member to attend college. Hence the title, A House Divided. Although Willie desperately wants to stay in Glenfield with his friends, his family considers moving an hour away to be near the more successful store. They won't move unless the family comes to a unanimous decision. Willie wrestles with choosing between his own desires and putting his family first. Ultimately, Willie follows God's lead and votes to move. He says,
"I thought about Dad, how he made sacrifices every day for me--how he was killing himself trying to run two stores, just because I didn't want to move. I thought about Mom and how hard she had always worked for her family. Neither Mom or Dad put their own desires or interests first. . .They were living examples of God's selfless love for us. After all, God had given up a lot for me--His own Son. I closed my Bible and switched off the light. I lay in the dark, listening to the house creak and wishing I could be a kid forever."As always, Willie's best friend, Felix, provides comic relief. He wins a bid for the world's largest egg timer on EBay, but forgets to figure in shipping--which is considerable as it travels from Australia to Glenfield. Willie's neighbor, Phoebe, still is enamored with him, and he learns to appreciate her in the face of having to move away. However, when Willie's dad, in recognition of Willie's increasing maturity, allows him to handle the new store's advertising campaign, a chance photo of Willie and Phoebe contributes to a hilarious billboard mix-up.
Willie is even growing up enough to notice the beating of his friend Samantha's heart, in their touching final farewell.
What I Like: The Willie Plummet books are engaging and authentic, and combine humor and the trials of junior high to provide a model of living life God's way. Willie and Felix can be adventurous, silly and impulsive, but they also are good friends who take their faith seriously.
In A House Divided, I especially like the way authors Buchanan and Randall handle making a major family decision. They remember what it is like to be a junior high boy, and they portray Willie's annoyance with his older sister, struggles with moving, and thoughts about God's will in a realistic, teenage manner.
The books are also written in first-person, which makes them particularly readable and accessible. Reluctant readers will have an easier time connecting to the text, and advanced readers will still appreciate the humor and dilemmas Willie faces.
What I Dislike: Nothing.
Overall Rating: Excellent!
Age Appeal: 8-12 (But most junior high readers will enjoy them as well.)
Publisher Info: Concordia Publishing House, 2001; ISBN: 0-570-07131-3; Paperback, $5.99
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