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Summary: Matty Smith (15) lives with her father, grandmother, and several tenants in Boston. When they were given their freedom, they left Portsmouth, NH, to leave their lives as slaves behind. Still, it is only 1812 and slavery is still a very real part of their lives. When several boys start chasing Matty, her fears become a reality. Lydia Bainbridge, a well-to-do white girl, sees what is happening and helps Matty escape. When one of the Bainbridge's staff hurts her foot, Lydia convinces her father to hire Matty. While Matty is grateful for the job, she is very suspicious of Lydia's purposes. Ultimately, despite a friendship and their well-intentioned efforts, they discover they cannot change the world. This is the sequel to Child Out of Place, an historical fiction novel set in 19th Century New England. This is a high interest/low readabiilty book.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 9 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Reading Level: 3.7
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: I didn't read the first book, but I absolutely loved this one. There are several references to events from Child Out of Place to set context, but the story is fresh from the start. The dynamics of the girls relationship is fascinating, and even though this is Maddy's story, Lydia is a well-developed character, too. This is a very fast read, as you don't want to put it down.
Pros: Even though the story is set in 1812, kids will see this as a timeless story. The author looks at the issues of race, friendship, and parent-child relationships in ways that offer great food for discussion and reflection.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a wonderfully crafted historical fiction novel.
Educational Themes: The crux of the story is the relationship between Lydia and Matty, though there are discussions of laws and daily life for people who lived in Boston in 1812. The author includes a number of references in the back to help readers see what is fact and what is fiction. This is an excellent selection for personal reading or a book club.
Notes: The author donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.