“As soon as I awoke on the morning of my fourteenth birthday I knew it was going to be a Keeping Day.”
So begins The Keeping Days, the first of six books in Norma Johnston’s charming series of the same name. Supposedly based on family stories told to the author by her aunts and uncles, these books follow two generations of a close-knit family in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx in the years leading up to World War I. Together the family copes with an array of challenges, from the death of their patriarch to the somewhat surprising birth of a child, as well as romances, illnesses, estrangements, and a scandal whose echoes will reverberate across a generation. Although these are not new books—they were first published between 1973 and 1981—they remain surprisingly readable and relevant today.
The first four books in the series deal with passionate, romantic Letitia Sterling, middle child in a large, boisterous family. “…I’m sensitive,” Tish confides to the reader, early on. “I might as well tell you that straight off, because Mama always does. She seems to think it explains a lot.” Tish cherishes Keeping Days—days that are so special and memorable that they will live in her heart forever—and dreams of being a writer someday, a goal that no one but her much-loved grandfather seems to understand or appreciate.