The Saturdays Critical Context - Essay

Elizabeth Enright

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Elizabeth Enright, originally trained as an illustrator, won a Newbery Medal for her novel Thimble Summer (1938), the story of nine-year-old tomboy Garnet Linden and her experiences growing up on a Wisconsin farm during a hot, Depression-era summer. The title of this work refers to the main character’s discovery of a thimble in a stream; Garnet views her find as a good omen, and this attitude contributes the same optimism to Thimble Summer that is found in Enright’s later works. Garnet’s story also features the stable, single-parent family found in Enright’s other novels and that is, in fact, a part of the author’s own biography.

The Saturdays is the first novel in a series of four about the Melendy family. In The Four-Story Mistake (1942), the family moves from their Manhattan home to the country, an experience that also mirrors the author’s own childhood. Then There Were Five (1944) tells of the addition of a new Melendy family member, and Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze (1951) finds Randy and Oliver pursuing a mysterious scavenger hunt after the older children leave for boarding school. Later, Enright introduced another family, the Blakes, in her novels Gone-Away Lake (1957) and Return to Gone-Away (1961).