"It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think he or she is wonderful."
This is my test for finding a good book: you just know, with that kind of a beginning, that the rest will be worth reading.
And I'm not sure that I've ever read this one. Or else I've forgotten many of the wonderful bits, like Matilda at four years old, walking herself to the public libary while her mother's out playing Bingo every afternoon, learning that she can take the books home (Dickens and Hemingway and Steinbeck), making hot chocolate for herself (she needs the stepstool from the outhouse to reach the ingredients), and then spending the afternoon up in her room, reading with her cup of cocoa beside her.