Eggs by Jerr Spinelli opens with nine-year-old David forced to attend a local Easter egg hunt by his grandmother. David is still grieving his mother’s death and does not want to interact with any other children. He is the last to start looking for eggs so, because he knows he will not find any in the grassy part of the park, he goes into the wooded section. There he finds the body of a girl, lying on her back with an egg in her mouth. He is too frightened to tell anyone about the girl and when he goes back to the park later in the day she is gone. He watches the newspapers and the nightly news, but no mention of the dead girl is ever made.
Several weeks later he accompanies his grandmother to the library where she reads books to groups of children. In the back row, apparently asleep, is the dead girl. David screams, the girl screams, the children scream. She gives him a card before she runs away, and several days later he goes to the address on the card to find the girl, Primrose, living in an abandoned van outside of her mother’s small home.
Primrose does not have a father; David does not have a mother. The two become friends and slowly reveal their secrets to each other. Primrose resents her mother who is “goofy”, wears odd wigs, reads people’s palms, sometimes the soles of their feet, for a living. She resents the fact that her mother never read her to sleep which is why she was at the library pretending to be asleep while David’s grandmother read to the children. David resents his grandmother who will not scold him or punish him because she believes he has enough to bear. He believes that if he follows every rule except his grandmothers that his mother will come back and watch the sunrise with him. She had promised to wake him early so they could watch the sunrise together the night she died.
Eggs is not the fun book many of Mr. Spinelli’s readers have come to expect. Primrose does have many Stargirl like characteristics: she is decorating the inside of her van and putting flower boxes on the outside for example. She takes David along for the ride on her late night expeditions to find good trash she can sell at the Saturday flee market. But Primrose is no Stargirl–she is mean to David, picks on him because he is four years younger, and she faces the world with a chip on her shoulder, taunting the people at the flee-market who avoid her table. I think that if she met Stargirl she would probably end up starting a fight with her.
David is working through a very complicated grieving process, and it is here that the strength of Eggs lies. David is taking his anger out on his grandmother, whom he openly torments in several scenes. He sees her mopping the kitchen floor and deliberately enters the room and walks all around it from stove to sink to refrigerator for no reason but to bother his grandmother, or so it seems. We learn later that his mother died in an accident–she slipped on a freshly mopped floor that did not have a caution sign on it and fell down a staircase. David is also bargaining, trying to follow every single rule he encounters, which would have saved his mother had the cleaner put up a sign and might bring back his mother, he believes.
Both Primrose and David find resolution in the end of the book, after a misguided attempt to walk from their suburban town to the city along train tracks. Primrose and David help each other accept their situations in an ending that is both satisfying and believable.
Eggs is much more grounded in reality than other books Mr. Spinelli has written; it feels much more personal. This may be because the subject matter hit me very close to home. I am not convinced that Mr. Spinelli’s younger readers will rank Eggs along Stargirl or Maniac Magee but I am giving it four out of five stars.
In the years since I first published this review on my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B. many of my 7th grade book clubs have read both Stargirl and Eggs, since I have sets of each in my classroom. To be honest, while some groups are enthusiastic about Stargirl, neither book is a big classroom favorite. I don’t think I’ve had a group that unanimously liked Eggs. It’s my belief that Stargirl is better suited to 5th and 6th graders.