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Literature / Rabble Starkey

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Rabble Starkey is a young adult novel by Lois Lowry published in 1987.

Rabble Starkey is a 12-year-old girl living with her mother, Sweet Hosanna at the Bigelow's house. Sweet Hosanna acts as a live-in nanny and housekeeper since Mrs. Bigelow is suffering from mental illness that prevents her from taking care of the house or her children, Veronica and Gunther.The Bigelow house becomes a home for Rabble and her mother, especially when Mrs. Bigelow goes to the hospital, but they can't stay there forever.

This book provides examples of:

  • Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. Ginger left Sweet Ho after she gave birth to Rabble.
    • While not completely mentally healthy before getting pregnant with Gunther, Mrs. Bigelow apparently got worse afterward.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rabble's father abandoned Sweet Ho when Rabble was about a month old.
  • Glamorous Single Mother: Averted with Sweet Ho. While really only taking the reins of raising her daughter when Rabble turned eight, she had a hard time with money, first as a waitress and finally as live-in nanny/housekeeper for the Bigelows.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Gender inverted with Millie Bellows. She is an old woman who lives alone and yelled to make sure Gunther wasn't walking on her grass. She also had a hard time showing appreciation when Rabble and Veronica started to help around her house.
  • Karma Houdini: Rabble thinks so with Norman after he throws a rock that sends Mille Bellows to the hospital. Only Rabble and Veronica knew he threw the rock, but when they get him to help Millie, Veronica convinces him to do it for other reasons (including the fact that he has a crush on Veronica). Eventually, Rabble lets him know they know he threw the rock and that he should understand he did wrong.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Mrs Bigelow has some kind of mental disability that prevents her from truly looking after her children. It is seen as problematic but something everyone can live with until Mrs Bigelow nearly kills her four-year-old son by dunking his head underwater in a pond trying to baptize him. After that, she goes into a mental hospital where she stays for months.
  • Meaningful Name: Sweet Ho said she and her mother gave Rabble a Biblical name (Parable Ann) to thwart the trouble coming her way (meaning she was very beautiful).
  • Missing Mom: Emotionally, Veronica and Gunther's mother was not around. She is eventually hospitalized for a number of months due to her mental illness.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: For the most part, Parable Ann is simply called Rabble.
  • Raised by Grandparents: For the first eight years of her life, Rabble was raised by her grandmother while her mother grew up.
  • The Runaway: Sweet Ho ran away at 13 to live with Ginger Starkey, a 20-year-old man she just met and fell in love with.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Sweet Ho had Rabble when she was 14.
  • The Voiceless: Mrs Bigelow doesn't say anything due to her mental illness and Rabble hadn't heard her say anything in the four years she lived with the Bigelows.