by Laurie Halse Anderson
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Our narrator, Matilda Cook, is quite the young firecracker. How do we know? Well, because we can hear all of the private thoughts running through her head – whether her mother is getting on her nerves or she's filled with joy over finding a potato in the garden.
How about when she meets Nathaniel Benson in the marketplace and then immediately feels like a dork for wishing him luck with his paints:
"Good luck with your paints? Did I really say that? What a ninny." (5.94)
We've all been there. Trust us.
As a narrator, Matilda is likeable, relatable, and very human. As we read, we may come to feel like one of her very good friends – a relationship between novel and reader that makes witnessing her pain all the more intense.