Kind of let down. I love historical fiction as a way to learn about the history of the period but this didn't offer up what I was hoping for... The stKind of let down. I love historical fiction as a way to learn about the history of the period but this didn't offer up what I was hoping for... The story ends LONG before Hild becomes and nun and we learn nothing of why she's historically important, and it takes FOREVER to get us to an unsatisfying ending -- also superfluous graphic sex scenes ... including her being serviced by her slave...more
I have very mixed feelings about this Young adult historical fiction: G rated book. It's a short easy read and quite the page turner. It covers WWII aI have very mixed feelings about this Young adult historical fiction: G rated book. It's a short easy read and quite the page turner. It covers WWII and the Japanese rule of Korea as viewed from the perspective of a Korean brother and sister. It is well written, entertaining, and for the most part is so sanitized that it turns something really horrible into a bit of frivolous fluff. Now there might be some parents who will like it for that reason, 'well we want our kids to know something of the Japanese invasion of Korea, but lets spare them the gory details.' I don't tend to agree with that type of thinking.
While mostly historical the book is NOT entirely historically correct and sometimes with some really basic stuff, for instance the description of the Korean flag given repeatedly is the modern flag, not the flag of Korea before the Japanese invasion (yes they're different). This being such a basic fact to get wrong that it sets much of the historical accuracy of the rest of the book in great doubt.
The story includes some of the obligatory atrocities such as references to the forced recruitment of comfort women, but does so in such a subtle way that if a student is not already aware of comfort women all they would realize was that these girls were being forced to be factory workers in Japan. Basically, the book makes the war seem like a bit of cake walk, with the addition of some overly zealous Japanese soldiers thrown in just to keep it believable. But other than shortages of all kinds, and the fact that Koreans were treated like an oppressed class, and being forced to speak in a different language and take one different names, the book tends to gloss over the war in a 'it wasn't all that bad and no one really got hurt' sort of a way -- but don't forget that they were horrible to us.
The book also discusses the fact that there were Korean Kamakazi pilots (but again in a way that won't freak out young readers with an 'it was all a big misunderstanding' sort of ending). Also it doesn't delve in the slightest into the backlash those pilots, who by the sheer nature of the task had to have enlisted by choice, faced from other Koreans upon their return (and still do).
Overall I can't recommend this book. As a kid, being Jewish, I grew up reading kids books about WWII from the Jewish perspective and they went much further in prepping our awareness for the Holocaust without protecting us from it. Books like this, I believe, do a disservice in that people have a very hard time unlearning misinformation, and if this is what you're exposed to first the student is inhibited from fully understanding why the Koreans hold such an unquenchable anger against the Japanese. ...more
14 yr old Emily's close friends the Suratt's are under suspicion in Lincoln's murder, and her uncle for body snatching for medical research. Emily's b14 yr old Emily's close friends the Suratt's are under suspicion in Lincoln's murder, and her uncle for body snatching for medical research. Emily's best friend is Annie Surratt, the daughter of Mary Suratt who was hung for her part in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln (yes it's a spoiler but its history). The book is dark with intrigue and gross medical stuff, so students should love it. While the assignation and arrest of Mary Suratte is the major historical event around which the book is written, it is more about the state of medical science in the US at the end of the war and how it was impacted by the war, than about Lincoln.
For instance, Rinaldi's author's note starts out focused on the history of medical dissections in the united states, and then goes on to describe its history in Europe. She then describes the history of hospitals, medical schools and medicine in the US. She doesn't turn towards the conspiracy to kill Lincoln till later. She includes a darkly humorous description of extents that medical students would go to in order to procure their own bodies to dissect.
It also includes a description of which characters are fictional, and which real... the two little people/grave robbers are apparently real, which I thought they must be as I was reading the book, because that's the kind of detail that has to be true to be believed -- only they were not in DC nor did they live during that time period. Rinaldi makes Emily's uncle one of the three doctors who attended to Lincoln after he was shot, making him the third doctor whose identity has been lost to history. As her notes show, Rinaldi in this book has done a fine job weaving historical truth and fiction together. Another example is that Emily often talks about the day that Johnny Surratt took her to Fords Theater to sit in the President's Box, and in fact he did take two young ladies to that theater and box ... ect.
She even discusses the historical debates about Annie, and other aspects of the true parts of the book and which sources she chose to rely on and why. And of course, Rinaldi being Rinaldi, she includes a full bibliography. The end of the book also include a list of teachers questions to pose to readers.
I am not a huge fan of Rinaldi's work. On one hand, as a history teacher, you got to love her for her attention to historical accuracy. I put this in part to her being 1) someone who does historical reenactments for fun -- and those guys are detail nutty, and 2) a journalist. However, she tends to not be the best writer. Her style is stilted and awkward. Having read a bunch of her books, however, I think this one is up there with some of her best... its so good that at times I forgot I was reading Rinaldi, I just wanted to know what was going to happen on the next page....more
1141 AD +Battle of Lincoln; Exciting story of a young page, stunted by the pox, dealing w/ political/castle intrigues during The Anarchy. This is the1141 AD +Battle of Lincoln; Exciting story of a young page, stunted by the pox, dealing w/ political/castle intrigues during The Anarchy. This is the period when sons were sent to another man's holding to be trained to be men. This is why both the main character and his brother are at their uncle's home. It becomes clear that the uncle is trying to ensure things like 'hunting accidents' and 'death in battle' so that their father's holdings will pass to him, and hence he can gift them to his younger children (who of course can not inherit his own estate).
The book is short, appropriate for middle schoolers but enjoyable enough for older readers as well.
The book discusses at length Matilda/Maud (Empress Matilda/Matilda of England/Queen Maud), who 'held' the throne during a brief period of a few months (she was never able to consolidate her power), and the battle is between her forces and King Stephan's forces. This time period is less of a 'civil war' than political anarchy as multiple potential rulers vie for power, and as such is often referred to as 'the anarchy.'
There's a little confusion of names toward the end because Stephan's wife is also called Matilda; this is why the author calls her Maude, while never referring to the empress by that name.
In addition to the uncle's evil, there are issues having to do with which lords support which contenders for the throne.
There's an epilogue explaining what happens next, how Henry becomes king and marries Elenore of Aquitaine, and also explains how the story closely follows the Anglo Saxon Chronicle's description of events. The epilogue mentions how the chronicles described the period of the anarchy, when lords randomly attacked one another and did all sorts of treachery, as "when Christ and his saints slept" which is also the title of Sharon Penman's novel about the period. The author also explains the deviations from historical record during the epilogue.