I have been trying to post an audio file of my Book Launch Party presentation, and I keep get interrupted by the arrival of fabulous new reviews. What a wonderful problem to have! Here's the latest, from Bookworm For Kids. Thank you so much for this lovely review!
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This lovely jaunt into the year 1825 has nothing to do with dusty history books, but rather, brings to life the less known history of General Lafayette through the eyes of a spunky girl.
Clara is a 13/14 year old girl, who's still coming to terms with the death of her mother, quick marriage of her father to her aunt and the fast approaching birth of her half-sister. Add her strong dislike for her red hair, a pesky brother and the horrid idea that she should give up the most fun aspects of life and become more 'lady-like', and her world seems miserable. Her clever wit and slightly rebellious attitude make her easy to love, especially since her thoughts and feelings are often justified and understandable. Teenage girls will have no problem relating to her troubles, and through Clara, they can realize that girls from that time frame weren't necessarily so different from girls today.
The author does a marvelous job bringing the past to life. There's just enough details and explanations to make the lifestyle, habits and expectations from that time clear while keeping everything familiar enough that readers can relate to the characters. More unknown terms and items are explained in a way which doesn't break the flow of the story. At the end of the book, there's glossary to help out too.
General Lafayette's role in American history is expertly woven into Clara's life. The important events are relayed through her conversations with various characters in different situations. A little humor and tidbits from the time period are thrown in at the same time, helping to keep the 'tales' broken up and refreshing. There were a few moments where one or two recounts of Lafayette's important moments stretched out a little long, but in general, they were interesting.
Although this isn't an action book, the pace holds nicely. Clara finds herself in one predicament after the other as she tries to come to terms with those around her. There's a little romance involved and some tough rivalries in the area of friendship--those same things which teenagers face today.
Summed up, this is a marvelous historical fiction story. The characters are kept true to their time frame while, at the same time, are portrayed in a way modern day teens will have no trouble relating to. The 'history lesson' glides effortlessly into the main plot, insuring an educational delight. This is one YA historical fiction, I can highly recommend.