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Talking About a Revolution from Debutante Hill (It Sounds Like a Whisper)

It's never a good sign waking up in the morning and you find out that the goverment shut down.  I listened to NPR and thought really? Really? You all did it, didn't you? It's no secret where my politics lie, but I've always tried to find common ground. This time I just can't. People I know are already getting furlough notices. They don't deserve them, yet I'm betting Congresspeople are still getting paid. Whew! I was worried. Someone made a joke on twitter: "Does that mean Congress have to press the elevator buttons on their own?" Point taken. But is that elevator operator going to get back pay?  Is it fair they have to pay the price because some people decide to have a meltdown?

The last time we had a goverment shutdown I was working at the library. We were still open and getting paid; we received monies from the county which wasn't affected. Yet people would come in surprised. "Wait a minute! I thought you would be closed!" Although I've decided the next time I don't want to pay fines, I will tell the library clerk: "Yeah, I don't want to pay this fine. Let's shut down the library!" I haven't agreed with everything Obama has done, and let's just say that I didn't agree what President Bush 43 did about 95 percent of the time. Yet as Senator McCain pointed out several times, ObamaCare is now a law. It has been voted on more than once, it was ruled on by the Supreme Court, now let's try to make the best of it. However this has not worked and who is paying the price? The American people. Call me a traitor, call me a known liberal, call me what you want, but you tell me why many goverment workers-many who served our country-are trying to figure out how they're going to get by while our country is in limbo. You might say "Oh, it won't be for long" but what you might not think of as long can seem like an eternity when you are waiting to see what will happen next.  We had a BART strike last summer and might have another one soon. Many people lost wages because they couldn't get to work.  Limbo isn't fun. It's hard. I've been scared all my life I might end up in Pugatory when I die.  I'm going to Heaven no matter what. St. Peter will understand if I barge in.


It was time for some biblotherapy.  Fortuately I just bought Debutante Hill by Lois Duncan, issued by Lizzie Skurnick books. I’ve written here before that I adore Lizzie Skurnick ; now she has her own imprint where she is bringing back out of print YA/Middle Grade books. The first one published is Debutante Hill by Lois Duncan. I started with Duncan’s  new introduction of the novel: Originally a short story, Duncan was encouraged to make it a novel. Up for a challenge, she took it. The novel won the Seventeenth Summer Literary Competition and was published in 1958, starting off a great career in writing. Duncan’s regular readers might be surprised; no dead teachers make an appearance, no ghosts, no evil ghosts lurking about the fringes. However, something else is lurking: the structure of class, and the difference between haves and have nots.


Lynn Chambers is a girl of her times:  she has good friends, an irritating little sister, a boyfriend who just went to college but she gets to wear his ring around her neck. At the start of her senior year,  she finds out that a woman has decided to have a debutante season in Rivertown. All the upper class girls in Lynn’s Lynn is beyond excited. I was excited for her. I needed some clothes porn. Description of dresses! Shoes! Corsages! Bring it on, Lois baby!

However Duncan was smart, throwing in a twist.  Lynn’s father tells her not to go buy white gloves anytime soon; he’s not going to let her be a deb. Peeved beyond belief, Lynn asks why for it will be ‘the thing’ this year.  He tells her this: “It may be ‘the thing..’” but that doesn’t make it right. It’s something I don’t like to see starting.  There is already a disturbing quality growing in this town, a seperating of the people according to where they live and how much money they have...it’s bad enough it exists among the adult population, but it’s a tragedy to carry it down into the schools.”

Later Dr. Chambers is called out for an emerency for a family that has fallen on hard times. Mrs. Chambers explains to Lynne that “...not to seperate yourself so entirely from everybody who isn’t exactly like you.You need to know and like all kinds of people...”


Now you might be thinking: boy Jennifer, you are a kook. Comparing a fifty-five year old novel to what’s going on in Congress today. Are you out of your bleeping mind? Next you’ll be comparing the plot points of Louise Fitzbugh’s The Long Secret to what’s going on with Syria. Just hear me out.

Lynn’s parents were on to something:  Just because you’re bucking against the “system” is “the thing” doesn’t make it right. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for your principles, but when you’re doing it when it is so unecessary and hurting others, then it’s wrong.   Is Obamacare perfect? No. I’m still not sure if I should apply or not. However, I am happy to know I won’t be denied health care for pre existing condtions. What are they, you might ask? Acne, allergies, and I had an accident that required me to go to Urgent Care. I also take medication because I’m borderline ADD.  There are other reasons, however since they’re girlish stuff. Yes, I was denied coverage because I’m allergic to dust and get bad acne. What a health risk I am!


As Mrs. Chambers said, I don’t want to seperate myself from people who don’t think like I do. However I do know this: this shutdown isn’t helping us find common ground anytime soon.  The disturbing quality Dr. Chambers talked of now affects all of us. I keep on thinking of Tracy Chapman’s “Talking About a Revolution” when she sings “Don’t you know, talking about a revolution/and it sounds like a whisper/don’t you know, talking about a revolution/and it sounds like a whisper.” The whispers from Debutaunte Hill should come to Washington DC. There are many people that need to hear them.

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Hi Jennifer, I'll reserve

Hi Jennifer,

I'll reserve this from the library right now--I read Lois Duncan as a girl but missed this one, so thank you!


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Get the new version, Susan!!!

The intro from Lois is fantastic!!!