About the Book
“What a treat to discover The Saskiad, Brian Hall's 1997 novel about a 12-year-old girl growing up on a broken-down, dismal former commune outside Ithaca, N.Y. Saskia White is drunk on language, which she guzzles, transforms and ladles out again in great improvisational scoops of storytelling. The cow is "the coo," the house is a "ship," boys are "dregs" and America is "Novamundus." White rice is “shiny as cartilage," and old books crack and split to powder "the air with the smell of graham crackers.” Her imaginary companions include Marco Polo, Captain Horatio Hornblower, Odysseus and Tycho Brahe. Her more fleshly companions are her mother — who toils somberly on what remains of the farm and treats Saskia, with woeful misguidance, like a grown-up — and the commune's last few stragglers: a couple of surly, solitary adults and four younger children, whom Saskia refers to as “the crew.” . . .
The Saskiad offers large-scale adventure, complete with an overseas quest. The day after she turns 13, Saskia embarks on a hiking trip in Scandinavia with her long absent father and her new best friend . . .
In the end, quite satisfyingly, Saskia's story is about the most ordinary yet crucial things: growing up, finding first love, discovering how strong you are, how flawed you are, and how you can both change and keep constant with your own true self” (from Leah Cohen’s “Drunk On Words: A Literary Escape From Adolescence.” NPR Books. 12 Oct. 2011).