|Plot Summary of What Clouds There Were Were White|
|"This is the daily record of a young girl growing up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn in 1929 and 1930. In January of 1929, Josephine Fincken (the author) is fourteen, about to graduate from Public School 89; at the end of 1930, "Jo" is sixteen, a graduate of the Ellsworth Business School, who is commuting on the subway to her clerical job in Manhattan. Between those two milestones, Jo does a lot of growing up. Economic circumstances forces her to drop out of Girls Commercial High School to learn marketable skills, like shorthand and letter writing, at a local business school. In addition, she is co-writing a novel with a friend, but they eventually burn it in the Flatbush woods, and Jo decides to write a novel on her own. The meaning of its mysterious acronym title, "D.T.U.T.H.," is never revealed though it acts as one of the threads of the book.
Much of the pages, with good-natured humor and youthful drama, focus on the daily chores and activities of Jo's teenage life on East 38th Street: the neighborhood families, church activity (St. Stephens on Newkirk Avenue), her and her friend's diary and novel writing and related detective work, food shopping and library visiting, her "love" life (more imagined than realized), and the frequent movies she sees at the Kings and other Brooklyn theatres. The book is full of Jo's own poems and the lyrics of the popular songs she likes, and is illustrated with about a dozen of her own drawings, most of them "Jazz-age" and fashion-related. Later in the book, after she learns some shorthand, some of her entries are actually coded. (These have been transcribed for the reader.) Occasional national and international news items are noted, such as "The Women's Air Derby" (Amelia Earhart et al) and America's Cup races.
In short, the book covers a two-year journey in the life of a young Brooklyn girl at the beginning of the Depression."
John Delaney, Resident Scholar
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|Review Analysis of What Clouds There Were Were White|
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Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Kids growing up/acting up?
- general coming of age story
Period of greatest activity?
Subject of Biography
- a teen
Is this an ordinary person caught up in events?
- American (!)
How sensitive is this person?
- sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Strong but gentle sense of humor
- Smarter than most other people
- average physique
How much descriptions of surroundings?
- 7 ()
- New York
- mostly 1st
Accounts of torture and death?
- no torture/death
Book makes you feel?
Is book humorous?
If humorous, kind of humor
Commentary on society?
Writer's slant towards subject:
- very favorable
Story of entire life, or part?
- story of set of events during life
If this is a kid's book:
- Age 14-16
- A lot 11-15 B&W
How much dialogue in bio?
- significantly more descript than dialog
How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?
- 0-25% of book
How much is philosophy rather than life story?
- 0-25% of book
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Josephine Fincken Resident Scholar Profiles|
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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