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Literature / A Corner Of The Universe

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Hattie Owens’ summer turns upside down when she’s introduced to an uncle she’s never met.

  • Alpha Bitch: Nancy and Janet are never seen without each other and they seem to take pleasure in laughing at Hattie behind her back.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Modern audiences will recognize Adam as having higher functioning autism. Because the book takes place in the early 1960’s, autism wouldn’t be widely known until much later.
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  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Angel Valentine, one of the residents in the Owens’ boarding house.
  • Coitus Interruptus: Adam and Hattie catch Angel and her boyfriend mid coitus. Hattie mentions that visitors of the opposite sex are not allowed to visit the upstairs bedrooms.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Hattie does a lot of growing up over the course of the summer.
  • Cool Big Sis: Dorothy, to Adam.
  • Cool Old Lady: Miss Hagerty, one of the residents in Hattie’s family’s boarding house counts. Hattie even thinks of her as a grandmother.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mr. Penny, another resident in the boarding house has a soft spot for Hattie.
  • Cute Bookworm: Hattie.
  • Daddy's Girl: Hattie is shown to be close to her dad.
  • Driven to Suicide: Adam commits suicide towards the end of the book.
  • Extreme Doormat: Played with in regards to Hattie’s mother Dorothy. On one hand she’s not afraid to take matters into her own hands in terms of who she marries, where she lives, and what she does to earn a living. On the other hand, Dorothy is also just as likely to seek her mother’s approval in trivial matters.
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  • The Fashionista: Hattie thinks of Angel as this, based on her description of her outfits. Miss Hagerty could count as this, based on the way she brainstorms style ideas for sewing Hattie a new dress.
  • Happily Married: Hattie’s parents.
  • The Hero's Birthday: Hattie celebrates her twelfth birthday mid summer.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Played with. Adam was enrolled in a residential school in Chicago for ten years. As Hattie discovers, his pictures were featured in some old family albums in her own home and she didn’t find these pictures or flip through the albums until after she was told about Adam.
  • Hollywood Autism: Adam is described as having an eidetic memory and even correctly guessing what day of the week it was based on any random day, month and year.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: According to Hattie, in the months following the funeral, Hayden Sr. will promptly reach for a bottle of vermouth if anyone says Adam’s name out loud.
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  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Averted and lampshaded. one character remarks at the sun shining during Adam’s funeral that if it isn’t raining during a funeral, it’ll be sunny.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Hattie was named for her grandmother, Harriet, but no one calls her by her full first name, presumably to avoid confusion.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Hattie narrates after collecting her newest stack of library books that there aren’t any literary characters that share her first name.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Adam. He’s not so much lost, but institutionalized for ten years while his existence was kept hidden from Hattie.
  • Maiden Aunt: Miss Hagerty never married or had children. But she states that she has had her fair share of boyfriends in her youth.
  • My Beloved Smother: Harriet, to the point where it extends to Hattie. Eventually Hattie tells her that she has no authority over her.
  • Old Money: Its implied that Dorothy's side of the family is this.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Hattie and her dad are both only children.
  • Open Secret: As Hattie learns, most of the adults from her parents and grandparents generations in town knew about Adam but no one, including Miss Hagerty, made any mention that they knew or remembered Adam until Hattie asked.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Hayden Senior and Harriet both outlive Adam
  • Quirky Household: The Owens’ boarding house with all of their colorful residents qualify.
  • Satellite Character: Hattie’s best friend, Betsy, doesn’t get much characterization or play an important part in the plot, as she’s on vacation with her family.
  • Slave to PR: Hattie thinks of her grandparents as this.
  • Small Town Boredom: Averted with Hattie.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Hattie gets along better with adults than most kids her age, and once expressed relief because she was too sick to go to a school dance.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Miss Hagerty is a talented seamstress-even showering Hattie with customized blouses and dresses.
  • Title Drop: Done by Adam.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Hayden Sr. isn’t that bad, but Harriet really takes the cake.
  • Uptown Girl: Hattie’s parents play this trope straight. It also overlaps with Dating What Daddy Hates because Dorothy's parents don’t approve of Jonathan being a painter.
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