So many Awesome things about Francie and I've probably read 500 books since I last read this one but here's what I remember STILL about the story (forgive my bad memory if I don't get this all exactly right)--
1. Francie doesn't drink her coffee. Her family is incredibly poor and they shouldn't waste anything but her mom gives her the opportunity to opt out of coffee. It's a tiny ounce of freedom in what would seemingly be a stifling environment. And it is all the more important because it comes from her mother. It is like the man who tends wounded feet in the concentration camp in Primo Levi's IF THIS IS A MAN. He trades his skills for rations of bread. It is a tiny freedom for the prisoners to decide if feet or food are more worth it, and the smallness of it makes an even greater impact.
2. Francie treats numbers and math like a narrative about a family. My sister read the math passage to my daughter when she was 5yo and complaining how she didn't numbers. Sometimes, we go back to it to remind her that numbers can be friendly and warm if you look at them from Francie's perspective.
3. Francie was smart. She read every day from Shakespeare and the Bible. Her mom said she would only get somewhere if she was smart and could read smart books. Shakespeare and the Bible! So Awesome. And even more Awesome that no one understood her when she started talking about people "begatting" children. I love how much Francie cherished the written word and it was truly a game changer for her in her life. I frequently feel this way when I see my kids reading. What would we do without books?
Favorite Francie quotes:
"Oh, magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!"
"Well, a person can only cry so long. Then he has to do something else with his time."
"Books became her friends, and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she was tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone, she could read a biography."