Review: Love and War (Alex and Eliza #2)

Title: Love and War (Alex and Eliza #2)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

1780. Albany, New York. 

As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon’s over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington’s right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not divided–much like the colonies’ interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza’s relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama. 

Review:

1780: Newlyweds Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are settling into their new life. They haven’t been able to settle into their own home yet because of Alex’s unstable job and traveling around. He has been General Washington’s right hand man, but he’s ready to take a bigger role for himself. While Alex decides to take some chances with his job, Eliza has to deal with family drama at home.

Though this story takes place almost 250 years ago, there were some timely aspects of it. America is still fighting in the Revolutionary War in the story. Alex has ideas about how America should be governed after the war. He believes the states should be united, using the same currency and laws. This theme of unity is prevalent today in the President Joe Biden’s plans for his presidency. There was a quote from Eliza at the end of the book which is so relevant today: “[The United States of America] is a shared space and a shared vision, and only when we learn that our different points of view give us a special strength will we tap into the full potential of our unique, united sensibilities.” Our differences make the world special, and they shouldn’t divide us.

I learned a lot about American history in this story. I didn’t know the details about how the country was formed during the Revolutionary War. I also found it fascinating how these historical problems, like the division between two groups of people, are still so relevant today.

This is a beautiful historical series!

What to read next:

All for One by Melissa de la Cruz

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship by L.M. Elliott

Other books in the series:

Have you read Love and War? What did you think of it?

Review: Georgana’s Secret

Title: Gorgana’s Secret
Author: Arlem Hawks
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A Regency romance on the high seas.

1811, HMS Deborah

Georgana Woodall dreams of freedom—freedom from her past and freedom from her secret. She has been living on her father’s ship for years, disguised as a cabin boy named “George.” But hiding her true self is becoming more difficult, and she yearns to break free of her life on the sea.

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the boy under his wing.

Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care, but needing to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy, she is convinced nothing can come of her affection. 

Georgana’s Secret is about two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.

Review:

1811: Georgana is the daughter of a ship captain. She has travelled with him on his ships for the past three years, since she came of age, in the disguise of a boy named George. The crew thinks that George is an orphan and a distant relative of the captain, but she doesn’t have the respect of the other men and boys. Dominic is a lieutenant on the ship. His mother wants him to get a promotion to captain, but he refused the promotion so that he can have more consistent work and support his mother. His mother has heard of Georgana, the captain’s daughter, and wants Dominic to find out more about her because she wants him to get married. Dominic is drawn to George when he sees him being bullied by the rest of the crew. They spend time together, and Georgana can’t help but fall for Dominic. However, she needs to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy to protect the ship and her father’s position.

This was a very slow burn romance. There was a lot of tension with Georgana’s secret. I held my breath every time someone came close to figuring it out. At the same time, I was rooting for Georgana and Dominic to get together and for him to figure out that she was really a girl in disguise.

I was a little lost when it came to the description of the ship and all the work they did on it. Most of the story was set on the ship, except for a couple of chapters. I’m not familiar with the terms that were used so I couldn’t follow the parts where there was a lot of technical terminology used.

I liked this regency romance.

Thank you Shadow Mountain for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

Have you read Georgana’s Secret? What did you think of it?

Review: The Lady and the Highwayman (The Dread Penny Society #1)

Title: The Lady and the Highwayman (The Dread Penny Society #1)
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers–and his profits. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the rights of the less-fortunate.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered. 

For the first time, Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.

Review:

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and the author of books for upper class women. She also secretly writes penny dreadful novels under the pen name Mr. King. Fletcher Walker is also an author of penny dreadfuls, and he is a member of the Dreadful Penny Society, which is a group who writes the novels and helps less-fortunate children. Mr. King has surpassed Fletcher as the top writer, but Fletcher doesn’t know Mr. King’s identity. When Fletcher discovers that Elizabeth knows Mr. King, he enlists her help to figure out who he is. At the same time, they both help each other with saving children from the adults who want to hurt them.

Elizabeth and Fletcher appeared to be opposites but they had a lot in common. They were both successful writers of penny dreadfuls, even though Elizabeth’s identity was a secret. They also both wanted to help children in need. It was disturbing to see how children were treated and overworked, and there weren’t any laws to help save them or punish the people who endangered them. Though Elizabeth and Fletcher came from different backgrounds, they had the same values.

The penny dreadful serials that Elizabeth and Fletcher wrote appeared between the chapters in this story. They each had distinctive voices apart from the main narrative. Their stories mirrored what was happening in their real lives, except without the supernatural aspects. I liked seeing how the authors incorporated parts of their lives into their work.

This was a fun Victorian story!

What to read next:

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Other books in the series:

  • The Gentleman and the Thief

Have you read The Lady and the Highwayman? What did you think of it?

Review: The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1)

Title: The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1)
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Romane, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Avon
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 28, 2015 (originally published January 5 2000)
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in the beloved Regency-set world of her charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix.

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

Review:

Daphne is one of the eight Bridgerton siblings. She’s well liked in the “ton” but she has three older brothers who intimidate any worthy suitors for her. One day, she meets Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, who saves her from one of her most persistent suitors. Simon has always been certain that he never wants to get married, but mothers are always bringing their eligible daughters to meet him at parties. Daphne and Simon decide to solve both of their problems by starting a fake courtship: the mothers will think he’s taken and will stop parading their daughters around him, and other men will suddenly see Daphne as desirable. This fake courtship works, until the gossip writer Lady Whistledown questions their relationship and forces them to acknowledge their feelings.

When I heard this series described as Gossip Girl meets Jane Austen, I knew I had to read it. It has a regency setting, which reminded me of Jane Austen romances. It also had the juicy gossip of Gossip Girl. There were some funny moments, such as the names of the Bridgerton siblings. All eight of them have names that start with the first eight letters of the alphabet in order of their birth: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth. These were kind of cheesy but it made it much easier to keep track of the siblings and their ages.

There were some possibly triggering scenes in this story. At the beginning, one woman died in childbirth after losing many babies before. There was also a scene of non-consensual sex. It was a woman who took advantage of a man, which isn’t often portrayed in novels. The characters immediately acknowledged how inappropriate this was after it happened. However, I appreciated how this showed that sexual abuse can and has been done by men and women in any time period.

I really enjoyed this story! I can’t wait to continue the series!

What to read next:

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

Other books in the series:

  • The Viscount Who Loved Me
  • An Offer From a Gentleman
  • Romancing Mister Bridgerton
  • To Sir Phillip, With Love
  • When He Was Wicked
  • It’s In His Kiss
  • On the Way to the Wedding

Have you read The Duke and I? What did you think of it?

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Review:

In France in 1714, Addie LaRue made a deal with the god, Luc. She will live forever, but she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie quickly realizes that this curse will be difficult to live with. She cannot create anything or leave her mark anywhere. She must steal to survive. Everything changes in 2014 when she walks into a bookstore in New York. She meets Henry, who remembers her when she returns the next day. With Henry’s help, Addie can leave her mark on the world.

Any review cannot do this book justice. It was so beautiful from beginning to end. I read this book slowly, over a couple of weeks, because I didn’t want to rush through it. I needed to savour the beautiful prose and the heartbreaking story of Addie LaRue.

Addie’s life was heartbreaking from the beginning. There were many instances of people forgetting her over the course of 300 years. Some of her close friends who knew her from before her curse didn’t recognize her after she made her deal. I kept hoping that someone would remember her after they had left, and eventually she found Henry, who remembered.

The time period jumped between chapters. I sometimes find that kind of jump in narrative disorienting because the setting is constantly changing. However, the alternating time periods in this story made sense to the story. Each chapter answered questions or demonstrated the meaning of an event from the previous chapter.

Addie’s story was so moving and heartbreaking, but also filled with love. This is one of my favourite reads of 2020!

Thank you Tor Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Have you read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue? What did you think of it?

Review: Alex and Eliza (Alex and Eliza #1)

Title: Alex and Eliza (Alex and Eliza #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Review:

Eliza Schuyler is descended from one of the most important families of the American revolution. Her and her sisters are some of the most eligible young ladies at their family’s grand ball. However, when her father receives bad news, Eliza and her sisters are placed in a dire situation. Alexander Hamilton is the mysterious assistant to George Washington. Eliza is excited to meet him at the ball, but after Alex delivers the bad news to her father, she never wants to see him again. A misunderstood note leads Alex to Eliza, and begins their famous love story.

I don’t know much about Alexander Hamilton or his wife Eliza, so I was excited to read this story to learn more about them. This was an adorable love story. It was had an “enemies to lovers” type of romance, since Eliza didn’t like Alex after finding out that he delivered the bad news to her father but then eventually fell for him. That’s one of my favourite romance tropes.

Though this was a historical story, the historical descriptions weren’t heavy. The writing style emulated that time period, but was easy to read for a modern audience. Alex and Eliza were in the midst of the Revolutionary War, but that didn’t overpower their story. It was an important part of their lives, but they were able to explore their romance as well.

This was a beautiful historical romance!

What to read next:

Love and War by Melissa de la Cruz

Jo and Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz

Other books in the series:

  • Love and War
  • All for One

Have you read Alex and Eliza? What did you think of it?

Review: The Sea Gate

Title: The Sea Gate
Author: Jane Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A broken family, a house of secrets—an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.

After Rebecca’s mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother’s mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.

Olivia, her mother’s elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.

As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner…

A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she’ll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.

Review:

After Rebecca’s mother dies suddenly, she finds letters from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia. Olivia needs help renovating her home so she can move back in after breaking her leg. While Rebecca is fixing Olivia’s home, she finds some mysterious things, including a human finger bone, which makes her curious about her cousin. When Olivia was a young woman during WWII, she fell in love and had to make some tough decisions. Rebecca slowly uncovers Olivia’s past as she fixes up her house.

This was such a powerful story about love and loss. The story opened with Rebecca losing her mother suddenly, but she discovered her distant relative, Olivia. Olivia suffered some tragic losses during the war, but she also found love.

Olivia was treated horribly during the war and later in life. She was left with strangers after her father went to fight and her mother went to London. When she saw injustices happen, she tried to fight them but wasn’t believed and earned a negative reputation. This carried on throughout her life. It was so disappointing to see a young woman treated this way, just because she was a woman.

There was some possibly triggering content in this story. There was a rape, assaults, and murder. These scenes were brief, but could be triggering to some readers.

I loved this story. I couldn’t put it down! This is a beautiful and powerful historical story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore

Have you read The Sea Gate? What did you think of it?

Review: Screech!

Title: Screech!
Author: Charis Cotter, Genevieve Simms (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 31, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The whole world seemed to tilt at that moment, like a painting on a wall that gets knocked a little crooked. Everything she had known as real up until now was slightly altered, and she seemed to be standing on the edge of a huge, dark, trembling world that was just a little different than it had been one minute before. Ghosts were real.

There is no dark like the Newfoundland dark. These ominous words beckon young readers onward in this spooky collection of ghost stories by celebrated ghost story-teller and award-winning middle-grade author Charis Cotter. Reimagined from family stories told across Newfoundland and passed down over generations, these 10 spine-tingling tales traverse centuries and introduce readers to the Rock’s nooks and crannies. From a ghostly blueberry-picker on the barrens to a visit from the notorious Old Hag, from a mysterious ballet troupe in a St. John’s mansion to a haunted house in an outport community on the cusp of resettlement, these stories bring the island of Newfoundland to vibrant new life (and death) as the thread of these years-old yarns is unravelled for a whole new generation. 

Featuring ghostly black-and-white illustrations from Newfoundland artist Genevieve Simms, as well as an overview of the Newfoundland storytelling tradition, and a Story Behind the Story for each tale including context on the story’s history, its original teller, its featured ghost, and setting, along with tips for spooky storytelling and a Glossary of Newfoundland terms, Screech! is equal parts eerie and educational, making it a riveting read as well as a great resource for budding historians and storytellers.

Review:

This book has a collection of ghost stories from Newfoundland. These stories are based on real events from the last few centuries. Newfoundland has a long history of shipwrecks, illnesses, and hard living conditions. These elements created the atmosphere for ghost stories.

One thing that I loved about these stories was that after each story, there was a description of the origins of the story. The location of the story was described, because every town in Newfoundland has it’s own history and different living conditions. The type of ghost was described, because some were ghost stories that have appeared throughout time, such as a loved one appearing at their time of death. The author also talked about where she heard the story. I loved this historical explanation of the stories.

This is a great collection of ghost stories from Newfoundland!

Thank you Nimbus Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Have you read Screech!? What did you think of it?

Review: A Princess by Christmas (A Royal Wedding #3)

Title: A Princess by Christmas (A Royal Wedding #3)
Author: Julia London
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s discovered his secret.

Now the trouble really begins…

After three years of mourning—and turning her dear deceased husband’s gazette into the ton‘s sauciest source of fashion and gossip—Hollis Honeycutt feels her life has been strangely bereft of late… Her sister is living abroad, and her best friend moved to the country. What must a young widow of rank and reputation do? Why, transform her society gossip sheets into serious investigative news, starting with a rumored coup…and the rather dashing, mysterious gentleman whom Hollis suspects might be the villain of her first real story, and she is the only one who can write it.

Marek Brendan is investigating terrible rumors of treachery and treason that threaten his home country of Wesloria, but he must proceed with caution. No one can discover the truth. After all, who would ever believe he is Wesloria’s lost crown prince? Only Hollis Honeycutt’s cerulean-blue eyes seem to know more than she’s letting on—and worse, Marek can’t seem to resist her curious charms. But even as betrayal threatens a nation and a throne, nothing is quite so dangerous as the lovely young widow who’s determined to find the truth…and a prince of her own.

Review:

Hollis is adjusting to her new life without her sister and best friend, who are now happily married. She is the editor of a women’s magazine that she inherited from her deceased husband. When the King of Westloria visits England, Hollis discovers a possible coup. At an event with Queen Victoria, Hollis meets Marek, a mysterious stranger who has traveled from Westloria with the King. Marek is investigating his own suspicions of treason in the kingdom. Hollis and Marek are drawn together to investigate the rumors of a coup within the kingdoms.

This story is the third in the series, but I didn’t feel lost without reading the first two. I could tell by the way that Hollis’s sister and friend were settled into their marriages, that they were probably the focus of the first two books. The characters were introduced enough that I understood what was happening, and didn’t need to read the first two books first.

I didn’t find the romance in this story believable. Hollis and Marek were strangers who were suspicious of each other, since they both were searching for answers to the rumors they’d heard. Then all of a sudden, after spending some time together, they were in love. There wasn’t a build up to a romance that I would have expected in this kind of story. There also wasn’t the Christmas theme I was expecting. The story ended at Christmas, but I thought there would have been more of a Christmas theme throughout the story, since it had “Christmas” in the name.

This story was a little disappointing, because it wasn’t the holiday romance I was expecting.

Thank you HQN Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

How to Catch a Wicked Viscount by Amy Rose Bennett

Other books in the series:

  • The Princess Plan
  • A Royal Kiss and Tell

Have you read A Princess by Christmas? What did you think of it?

Review: Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It

Title: Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It
Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the dramatic events that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.

“Right here, I’m sharing the honest-to-goodness.” -Loretta

“I’m gon’ reach back, and tell how it all went. I’m gon’ speak on it. My way.” -Roly

“I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there’s nothing bad about being bold.” -Aggie B.

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories – beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey. 

Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.

Review:

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie were three generations of a Black family who lived in the American south in the early 20th century. They each had different perspectives on their lives, which they tell in their monologues in each part of this book. Loretta lived with her father and two sisters, on a farm where they picked cotton. They weren’t officially slaves, but they were often treated as if they were. One day, Loretta and her sisters found a baby in a field, who became their brother Roly. During Roly’s childhood, they were able to buy their own piece of land. When Roly got older, he married and had a daughter named Aggie. His wife left when Aggie was a newborn, leaving Aggie in the care of Roly and Loretta. Aggie grew up in the 1960s, so she had a completely different perspective on the world than her older relatives.

Most of the stories that I’ve read about slaves or their ancestors have been for adults, so I loved that this one was for children. There were some tough scenes, such as when Loretta’s father was insulted by his boss or when their farm was attacked just because they were Black. These are important parts of history that need to be taught to everyone.

Even though these three storytellers were from the same family, they had different perspectives on the world. Loretta had seen her father suffer, and she had suffered herself while picking cotton. Roly was just a few years younger than her but he had a different upbringing. He had a more comfortable life, looking after the animals on their farm, and he wasn’t interested in moving higher in the world. Loretta was inspired by the civil rights movement of the 60s and wanted to make a change in the world. Though they were from the same family and lived in the same place, the time period that they were living in changed the way they viewed the world.

This is a beautiful and important children’s book.

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Wunderkind PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

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