A Gracious Plenty vs. the Firefly Cloak

“An experimental dip into magical realism…” (Matson) That is the perfect way to describe the novels, “A Gracious Plenty” and “The Firefly Cloak. ” Sheri Reynolds has a very unique writing style in both of these stories that is admired by many. She uses different writing styles and elements to make her novels appealing to many diverse audiences. Reynolds uses the isolation of the main characters to set the tone and idea of the stories. Both of these novels feature characters that are in fact isolated and left by themselves. It makes you feel sorry for the characters and have a general connection with them giving the stories seriousness.

She relates the theme to the characters isolation by bringing out the individuality in people and making you see not only what is on the outside of a person, but what is on the inside as well. Reynolds does a remarkable job with creating her characters this way. Finch and Tessa, from the novels, are both ideal examples of girls who were left alone and are now required to go within themselves to feel as if they can make it through alone. Sheri Reynolds’s writing style, themes, and use of elements in “A Gracious Plenty” and “The Firefly Cloak” are very similar and both reflect on isolation and independence of the main characters.

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Each character has a different story of how she ended up isolated and Reynolds does a nice job of bringing the explanation together with the rest of the story. Her style has “more of the rich southern atmosphere and coming-of-age drama. ” Although “the drama is relatively quiet here, many teens will connect with Tessa Lee’s (from “The Firefly Cloak”) combined ferocity and vulnerability. ”(Matson) In “The Firefly Cloak,” the two children have been abandoned and are left only with their mother’s firefly patterned bathrobe and a phone number.

The characters are left to fend for themselves after being abandoned by their parents. However, in “A Gracious Plenty,” Finch Nobles is isolated and looked down upon by her peers because of her somewhat frightening appearance due to a childhood accident. Even though she is mostly by herself, she still manages to converse with spirits, which makes her appear even stranger to others. Both of these stories share a similar theme of isolation of the main character. Although the characters all have different reasons for being isolated, Sheri Reynolds demonstrates her writing style and incredible use f her imagination. It brings the use of magic into her story while keeping the realism. Reynolds’s writing style generally relates to the use of the main character’s loneliness.

“Stories spun around maternal abandonment and reconciliation are plentiful, but Reynolds gives this one a satisfying literary heft. ”(Matson) She puts a lot of effort into getting every detail of her character making sure that each one of them has their own story and reasoning for his or her actions. “Reynolds develops her characters to a slow-simmered richness, finding gentle metaphors in the unassuming details of their lives. (Reynolds) By doing this, her characters have ways of getting lost within themselves. The characters are so caught up in their loneliness that they only focus on themselves and how alone they are. While her stories are quite different, they are both told with a set of Christian values.

At least one person is always fighting the values and walking on a very different road in life. This also relates back to her writing style because it shows that she is trying to get a valid point across in her stories and she is trying to promote good morality. ’A Gracious Plenty’ lures the reader quickly into the story, and refuses to release its hold on your imagination until you’ve read it through. ” (Lofton) In her stories, Reynolds’ uses elements of magic to give her novels more of a fictional setting and background. She uses the effects of magic, supernatural, and mystery involving the characters in her stories. In “A Gracious Plenty,” Finch is able to talk to the spirits buried in her cemetery. This supernatural element is a creative aspect of the story that discovers Finch, within herself.

Sheri Reynolds uses her imagination to make a connection with the spiritual world and the real world. “This novel of eccentricity and inner beauty transcends the way we often categorize both the living and the dead. ” (Leonard) Her use of mystery portrays itself in both novels giving you an unsure feeling about what will happen next. In “A Gracious Plenty,” new events occur one after another leaving you with uncertainty of what is coming. This element is beneficial because it makes the novels more intriguing to the readers. The motifs that Reynolds used in both of these stories were bravery and friendship.

In “The Firefly Cloak,” Tessa shows bravery by stepping up and taking care of herself and her little brother after they are abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Because of her bravery, Tessa ends up connecting with her brother giving her the friendship she needs after being left alone. Finch shows her bravery in “A Gracious Plenty” by presenting herself even though she is isolated against and judged. She has been criticized and made fun of for her whole life. However, she does not let it get to her she tries to stand up for herself and show how courageous she really is.

Finch connects with the people buried in the cemetery outside of her house because they are the only people who do not judge her and who accept her for who she is. She is not friends with people who are alive because all they focus on is how she looks. “In the process, she learns more than expected about life and begins to break free of the shell of her oppressive loneliness and isolation. ” (Reynolds) “The town children tease Finch cruelly by calling her names and vandalizing the cemetery, but Finch just keeps on with her life, alone and friendless in the world of the living. (Matson) Theme is incorporated into these novels through the aspect of isolation. Reynolds promotes the theme, “We are the same under our skin. ” This relates mostly to Finch because the burns on her face do not classify who she is. Although, none of the other characters in this book seem to realize it except for all of the people in the cemetery who actually care about her and look out for her. Another theme Reynolds uses is independence. Though this relates to both novels, it reflects more to Tessa in “A Firefly Cloak” because she is left alone with her brother and she has to fend for herself with some help from her grandparents.

She was only eight years old and all she had left of her mother was a cloak. This theme also relates to Finch because she is always alone. There are some exceptions where she will have a visitor from time to time but she does not consider any of them to actually be her friends. Reynolds relates these themes to her stories to help her readers relate to the situations in a way. Sheri Reynolds’s writing style, themes, and use of elements are wonderful features to her novels. She creates somewhat of a vision for us that is magical, yet it feels real.

She teaches us that love is all we have and that “neither our capacity to suffer nor our ability to be healed ends with the grave…”(Reynolds) With Reynolds’ fantasy elements coming in contact with her realistic storylines, the novels are excellent examples of the topic being discussed. Her magical elements give us a chance to feel the fantastic reality that she has created in her book. Whereas, her style of writing gives us a chance to connect with her characters. Reynold’s themes always have a good message for the reader about various lessons; such as, what is underneath the skin and that everything will get better in the future.

She relates all of these aspects in her stories to give them a fictional idea that includes fantasy elements making them seem real and fictional at the same time. Her stories are spun around maternal abandonment and isolations, but Reynolds has a wonderful way to make her novels satisfying to a diverse audience.

Works Cited

Leonard, Michael. “A Gracious Plenty — Book Review. ” Book Reviews. Curled Up With a Good Book, 2006. 05 Feb. 2012. Lofton, Marie. “Firefly Cloak. ” Bookreporter. com. Shaye Areheart Books, 18 Apr. 2006. Web. 05 Mar. 2012. <http://www. bookreporter. com/reviews/firefly-cloak>. Mattson, Jennifer. Reynolds, Sheri. Firefly Cloak. ” Booklist 15 Feb. 2006: 46. General OneFile. Web. 5 Mar. 2012. <http://go. galegroup. com/ps/i. do? id=GALE%7CA142637826&v =2. 1&u= udlib_Stmarks&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w> Reynolds, Sheri. “Synopsis: From the Book Jacket. ” Author Sheri Reynolds. 2005. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. <http://sherireynolds. com/a-gracious-plenty. html>. Reynolds, Sheri. “Synopsis: From the Book Jacket. ” Author Sheri Reynolds. 2005. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://sherireynolds. com/the-firefly-cloak. html>. “Sheri Reynolds. ” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. 5 Mar. 2012.

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