We are one chapter away from finishing the entire Ramona series. Fellow 30-somethings, did you know a new Ramona book came out after we were grown ups? “Ramona’s World” was published in 1999. I had no idea about its very existence until we were at the store to buy the first three Ramona books. In my head, the series had ended with “Ramona Forever”. I mean, it was meant to be FOREVER, doesn’t that mean the series is over? Apparently not.
The series has been great, with the exception of one thing that’s really stressing me out. Mr. Quimby’s underemployment and search for a teaching job is never resolved.
As a kid, Mr. Quimby’s unemployment and underemployment seemed pretty inconsequential to me. As an adult, I’m really freaked out for the Quimbys. Things always seem tight for the Quimbys even before Mr. Quimby lost his job. There’s always talk of pinching pennies. It’s always tuna fish for lunch. Ramona is always wearing someone else’s hand-me-downs, even if that someone else is a boy.
Then Mr. Quimby loses his job, but the stress doesn’t end when he finds a new one. He gets a job as a cashier at a grocery store. The Quimbys own a house and have two kids. Mrs. Quimby works as a receptionist for a doctor. That can’t be enough money for their little family to get by. As an adult, I’m seriously concerned they will lose their house, but this never happens. Instead, Mr. Quimby decides to go back to college to become an art teacher. He starts working weekends in a frozen food warehouse. I’m crossing my fingers that the student loans are enough to keep the family afloat.
It only takes Mr. Quimby about a year and a half to finish his coursework. I think he’s a returning student, but I may have missed the chapter that explained that. While Mr. Quimby is in school, Mrs. Quimby gets pregnant again. This never struck me as odd as a kid, but as an adult I’m stressing out for the Quimbys. I think Roberta had to be a surprise. I would be panicking if I got pregnant with a third child while we were struggling with my husband’s underemployment. Since the Quimby family is old fashioned (as it should be since the books started publication in 1955), Mrs. Quimby plans to quit her job to stay home with the new baby since Mr. Quimby is supposed to get a teaching job the following fall.
Then when Mr. Quimby graduates and Roberta is born, there aren’t any teaching jobs to be found. He’s offered one out in the boonies, but he decides not to take it because it would make the family unhappy. Portland is firing teachers, so he can’t find anything close to home.
In the end, Mr. Quimby starts working for the grocery store again, but this time he’s a manager. While it’s definitely a step up and I’m sure the pay is better, I’m still stressed out for him. This isn’t what he wanted. This isn’t what he put his family through a few years of meager income. I thought maybe Mr. Quimby’s job situation would reach a satisfactory conclusion in “Ramona’s World”. Maybe he would finally get that teaching job. Maybe the family would move and create a new world for Ramona.
But no. There is no mention of Mr. Quimby’s career in the book. I remain stressed out and sympathetic for Mr. Quimby.
And this has to be the last book. It was published 14 years ago. Beverly Cleary is almost 97 years old. As far as I can tell, she wrote all of her own books without ghost writers. It seems very unlikely that this situation is ever going to rectified. Maybe it’s a statement about how things really are for some families. Sometimes (or almost always. Whatever.) you have to settle into one career when you were after another, but it still concerns me that Mr. Quimby never found that job and will forever remain in a state of instability.