7 of 12 for the 2008 Young Adult Challenge
2 of 3 for the tl;dr challenge
1 of 6 for the Classics Challenge
5 of 11 for the Summer Reading Challenge
This is a breathtaking book. It takes us to Puritan New England, in the colony of Connecticut. Sixteen year old Katherine (Kit) arrives in America after having been brought up by her grandfather in Barbados. Her liberal Shakespeare-reading, ocean-swimming, silk-dress wearing upbringing did nothing to prepare her for the inflexibility and piousness of her aunt’s family that takes her in. In fact, Kit’s free thinking and outspoken ways create suspicion and irrational fear.
Speare’s characters are fleshed out and conflicted and it is a pleasure to watch them learn and grow throughout the book. Kit’s constant impulsive decision making and the inadvertent consequences never felt contrived. The time period and its rigid culture played a huge part in the plot of this novel – where seemingly harmless gestures and friendships can somehow make a person seem like a Satan-worshipper and be put on trial for witchcraft. It was a tremulous and frightening time, where politics were a constant topic of conversation as the colonists were just beginning to decide that they no longer wanted a king.
Kit’s indecision about what and who she loves, and where she belongs, rang so true to me. The descriptions of New England itself and of the traditions and chores of the time were expertly woven into the prose. The sprinkling of romance throughout the story fit just right and I loved the ending. If you are a lover of young adult historical fiction, this Newberry Award winner is a must-read.