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Here's to you, Rachel Robinson by Judy Blume

(10 Posts)
Liveandforget Thu 11-Jun-20 23:16:58

Currently reading this book with dc and we're trying to decipher a bit which feels pivotal towards the end of the book. It's where Rachel and her brother Charles visit the Immigration museum on Ellis Island with her father with his history class. On seeing records of their immigrant great grandparents, Charles runs out and and jumps on the seawall, amid fears he was about to throw himself into the sea. What made him do this?
Really intrigued. I think it may have something to do with the fact that he realised his father had kept their original immigrant surname.

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purplejungle Thu 11-Jun-20 23:22:44

I read this as a teenager and have always wondered about this, it never really made sense to me, hope someone replies!

NuffSaidSam Thu 11-Jun-20 23:30:01

I haven't read it for probably 20 years, but was it him seeing their struggle and sacrifice and just realising what a dick he'd been/how lucky he is/how easy he has it etc?

Frozenfan2019 Thu 11-Jun-20 23:32:39

I don't know but I imagine that learning a bit about what your ancestors went through when it was so traumatic is quite sobering.

Liveandforget Thu 11-Jun-20 23:54:14

I'm more inclined to think of it this way: that earlier in the book, as dad's birthday present, Charles had made an attention seeking 'gift' of declaring that he would be legally changing his surname to their original Polish, Rybcynski, so the family name lived on. When he saw that dad had beaten him to it, and changed his own name to adopt the original Polish as a middle name, the rug was pulled from under Charles.

DC made me read the whole book so I could explain that particular occurrence!

I'd forgotten what an amazing writer Judy Blume was.

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TerrorWig Thu 11-Jun-20 23:58:15

Charles is the older, teen brother right?

My memory is hazy, it's been a good few years since I read it (maybe 3 or 4, I did actually steam through them all not long ago!) but I think my assumption was always that he was humbled by the experiences of his great grandparents and realised he was being a bit of self-indulgent brat.

By the way, if you haven't read her most recent book, In the Unlikely Event, I can highly recommend!

Liveandforget Fri 12-Jun-20 00:19:29

I can understand those saying he was affected by the experiences of his forefathers. However, the entire trip to the museum passed by without incident. Whereas when he saw his father's name on the records with the newly adopted middle name of Rybzynski, he just lost it, and went charging out of the museum, jumping on the seawall as though to throw himself into the sea. That he is very much angry with his father is the subtext and is running away from HIM.

Much earlier, he'd accused his father of being a weak and pathetic man. Seeing his father has beaten him to legally adopting the family name before he, Charles, could, enrages him. He feels bested and cheated.

I KNOW I'm too invested in this.

@Terror, yes Charles is the older brother, who's pushing the family to breaking point. Also, thanks for the recommendation, will take a look!

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bookmum08 Fri 12-Jun-20 01:20:59

I haven't read the book in ages. From what I remember was that Charles was a bit 'lost' in life and that was why he acted the way he did. His younger sister (Rachel) was an academic genius. I can't remember if the older sister had a special talent though.
I am really curious now to have a re read. Unfortunately my Judy Blume books aren't with me where I am now.
I was always disappointing that JB didn't do a third book telling Alison's story. I am always hoping one day she might.

Greyblueeyes Fri 12-Jun-20 01:42:24

Oh I loved this book as a kid! So happy to be reminded of it! I think Charles was angry at the father as well for beating him to the name change. I love all of Judy Blume's books. She is such a wonderful author. Thank you for the reminder, OP!

Liveandforget Fri 12-Jun-20 12:48:28

@Greyblueeyes re-reading her books have reminded me what an awesome writer she is, especially in the children's books genre. Very very few like her.

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