Historical fiction offers us a chance to live, for a little while, in the past. The strong characters in these two books take us on adventures we could never experience here in the future! I have to warn you, though, you will miss these new friends when you turn the last page.
(Book 1 of the Hidden Histories series)
by Michaela MacColl
Time Frame/Location: Early 1900’s NYC and the Arizona Territory
Rory and Violet have lived at the Sisters of Charity Foundling Hospital in New York City since the death of their parents nearly three years ago. Rory made a death bed promise to her mother that she would always look after her younger sister Violet, only a year old, and has done everything in her power to keep that promise. When Rory learns that Violet and a number of the younger children are to be placed in homes in the Arizona Territory she tries to convince the nuns to let her go, but the harsh reality is that Rory at age 12 is too old to be adopted. Rory is determined to make her way out west to ensure Violet’s safety and happiness. Her selfless acts of courage to protect her sister are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Once in Arizona, the children and the nuns find themselves in a terribly polluted mining town run by a corrupt group of town officials. The children have been promised to Catholic (Mexican) families, but racial tensions in the town are at an all-time high and the white families demand that the children be given to them, creating dangerous situations. Many of the events described actually occurred and a number of the characters were based on real people. It made for exciting reading but it must have been terrifying for those who were actually involved.
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Time Frame/Location: 1939 – 1943 London and Kent
Ada and Jaime have known a very limited life in London. Ada, who can barely walk due to a club foot has been abused by their mother and kept prisoner in their one room apartment for the entirety of her life. Jaime has suffered their mother’s neglect and has been left unsupervised to roam the dangerous streets of London. Neither child has ever seen a doctor, both are malnourished and suffer from a number of maladies that could easily be treated. hen the children learn that there are trains taking children to the countryside to protect them from the German bombings in London they see this as their chance to escape their mother’s brutality.
In Kent, the children are placed with Susan Smith who is suffering a devastating personal loss and is coping poorly with her grief and depression. The responsibility of caring for Ada and Jaime force her to rejoin the living. As Susan attempts to heal the ailing bodies and damaged psyches of her charges she begins to see that life may still offer her happiness and love. As the children heal, so too does Susan.
Because Ada is the narrator, the reader may tend to think that the words “My Life” in the title refer to Ada’s life when in fact those words apply to all three characters, Ada, Jaime, and Susan.
This Youth book review was brought to you by Lisa Q. Harling. When not conducting Story Times or reading the best that kids’ authors have to offer, Lisa enjoys writing witty PSAs on Facebook, playing with her dogs and keeping up with her two adventurous sons. If you have suggestions for future book reviews, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.