Margaret in the Middle
Andrew Dewar was a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, and on the staff of the North York Public Library.
The heroine of Margaret in the Middle is a girl living on a farm north of Toronto with her aunt and uncle in 1927. Bernice Thurman Hunter began her story in A Place for Margaret, and plans to continue it in a third book. This leads to the main flaw of this particular novel: it doesn’t go anywhere. Like so many other second books in unplanned trilogies, it picks up after the first book and sets up for the third, but has very little action of its own.
In this novel, Margaret learns not to be jealous of her sister, breaks a leg, and helps her newly-orphaned friend find a home. But it is clear that Hunter has not dared to put her through any substantial evolution, in order to preserve her character intact for the third book. Margaret seems flat because of it, and there is little to hold the reader’s interest through the whole book.
Hunter’s descriptions of 1927 are interesting if sugar-coated, and Margaret herself would obviously be an interesting character if Hunter could let her relax for a moment. Had the events been rearranged to spread through the length of the book it might have worked better, but Margaret is presented as a cutout who doesn’t change much from episode to episode.
The third book should be interesting if the promise of adolescence and the events of the Depression are introduced, but this one can be passed over; it has moments but cannot hold interest for long.