Flora & Ulysses
By Kate DiCamillo
I really enjoyed reading this great book, and I think that there are a ton of great lessons and themes you can get from this story, but one of the biggest is: stop being a cynic. Open your eyes and your heart and live life happily instead of just being grumpy and gloomy your whole life.
Flora, the main character, was cynical through the whole book. “Do not think. Instead, observe,” was what she was always saying to herself. But Ulysses, the squirrel she saved from a death-defying vacuum cleaner, really changed her. She started caring less about herself and started being less cynical, and started to open her eyes to the world around her and started really living and enjoying life.
Flora had a very weak relationship with her mom, and she was always ignoring her. Flora’s mom didn’t exactly connect with her daughter either. Flora loved comic books, but her mom didn’t approve of them because she said they were not “real literature” and made Flora sign a contract swearing that she would not read them, which made Flora angry. And her mom was always writing her romance novels and was too busy to notice Flora. Maybe this was one of the reasons Flora was so cynical, because her mom didn’t really show her love to Flora.
Deep down inside, I think Flora’s mom still loves her because at the end of the book when she asked if Flora was there, she started to cry. When Flora said she wanted to live with her father on page 150, her mom said, “Go right ahead. It would certainly make my life easier.” But I don’t think she really meant it, I think she was just hurt on the inside.
I think the reason they’re all so distant is because Flora’s mom and dad divorced, and they’re all just having a hard time dealing with it all. Ever since they divorced, Flora’s father had become a sad, lonely man, kind of like Flora. It said on page 38, “He didn’t say much of anything anymore. Her father had always been a sad, quiet man, but since the divorce, he had become even sadder and quieter.” But Ulysses changed her father, too, because on page 102 when he saw Ulysses flying around in the air at the Giant Do-Nut (he had gotten superpowers when he was hit with the vacuum), he laughed and laughed and didn’t stop laughing for a very long time.
There was another character in the book. His name was William Spiver, and he was also a little bit cynical and pessimistic. Flora didn’t really like him at first, but as the book went on and she learned more about him, she started to care more about him and eventually, on page 213, William and Flora were holding hands! William, throughout the book, said he was temporarily blind, but I think he was lying and it was just some sort of way to cover up his feelings and sorrows of the past. As we learn on page 205, William was sent to live with his aunt Tootie because he kicked his stepfather’s truck into a pond in a fit of anger because he didn’t like feeling unnoticed and uncared for.
Overall, I think this was a great book full of great themes, great lessons, great characters, told with mesmerizing words that kept me reading on and on and on! I had a lot of fun reading it!