Thursday, 12 August 2010

Reviews Return!

I haven't forgotten. I have a whole stack of books here that I've read and would LOVE to be reviewed. Now, have I been too busy or too lazy? I'll leave that up to your discretion. Let me know what you conclude. ;)

But where has Books for Boys (specifically) gone?? Well, I don't work at Barnes and Noble anymore (*weeps*). We'll see how wiped I am after Faire season (and how wiped my bank account is) I'll probably go back for at least the Holiday Season, and well, probably after my museum term ends. (Unless someone else wants to hire me into the history field! Or (even better) offer me a fully paid PhD! Any takers?) But as I don't personally have much in the way of books for boys (seeing as I'm, you know, not one), you'll just have to deal with the girly books for a while. Which brings us to:

Nellie Bishop, by Clara Gillow Clark. Yes, it's a Juv Fiction book. Deal with it. Definitely in the 12 end of the 7-12 age range, due to, yes, slightly adult themes. The book details the events in the author's great-grandmother's life when she was 14 years old. Nellie and her brother Willie live in an Irish canal town in Northeast Pennsylvania (suddenly this book makes so much more sense by just knowing a little bit about the coal region!) Nellie, unlike her sisters, yearns for learning, not a husband. She is also desperate to find her little kleptomaniac brother a way out of the life of a canal worker that he is destined to lead. Ma, however, is determined to sell Nellie into marriage to the highest bidder. (The grabby hands of the men at the dance is where I would recommend this book to the older end of the Juv spectrum.) Several hidings from Ma, a rigged trip to the tavern, a few trips to the rich end of town and one runaway brother later, Nellie finds herself being lodged in the local hotel by a (much older) half Native American man named Daniel Martin. Much to Ma's delight, Daniel is willing to pay handsomely for Nellie's hand in marriage. However, he is also just as willing to let Nellie commit to the seamstress job that she was offered and never interfere again - the choice he leaves up to her. You may be surprised by what choice she makes.

I very much enjoy this book (as I do most Juvenile historical fiction). It has a realism to it that can only (and most appropriately) be described as gritty. The majority of the characters are not nice, nor are most of the situations that arise in their lives. However, neither are the characters evil or bad. They're just doing what they think is best in order to get themselves through this life. I very much recommend this book to anyone (boy or girl - boys, get over it and read a book with a girl main character) who has an interest in historical fiction, specifically nineteenth century or Pennsylvanian.

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