The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs

by Jack Gantos

How can love be a curse? “I am a young woman now, but when I was seven years... read more

How can love be a curse? “I am a young woman now, but when I was seven years old, something unexpected happened that changed my life forever.” It is not until she turns sixteen that Ivy fully understands the implications of what she saw in the basement of the Rumbaugh’s pharmacy—run by the identical, seventy-plus-year-old Rumbaugh twins—when she was seven. She’d known the Rumbaughs were taxidermists. Still, nothing could have prepared her for the sight of the twins’ mother, perfectly preserved and stuffed. That discovery is the first of many disturbing revelations in a novel that challenges readers to consider ideas such as nature versus nuture, fate versus free will, and the ethics of eugenics, not to mention female psychosocial development. All of these themes intersect in the Rumbaugh family curse, in which children fall so head over heels in love with their mothers that they can’t bear to ever be parted from them. Ivy, it turns out, is a Rumbaugh. And Rumbaugh’s take it all in stride. Constantly teetering between the hilarious and the macabre, Jack Gantos offers teens an unsettling, provocative tale. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

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