Jennie's Reviews > The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
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Aug 07, 07

bookshelves: required-work-reading
Read in May, 2006

The midwife finds Brat asleep in a dung heap. She says she will work for food, so the midwife takes her on, having her do the housekeeping and herb-gathering and renames Brat, Beetle. Beetle is not allowed to assist when the midwife delivers a baby, but she watches from the windows and learns the midwife’s skills.

One day, she gets to go to the fair to buy things for the midwife. There, she decides that she needs a real name, a proper name, and starts calling herself Alyce. One day, in the middle of a difficult birth, the midwife gets called away and leaves Alyce in charge. No one expected the baby to be delivered alive, but Alyce talks the mother through the process and the baby survives.

After that, people start coming to Alyce more than the midwife, but when Alyce needs to call the midwife for help during a difficult birth, she sees herself as a failure and runs away, leaving the life she had built for herself.

This is a great book for an older child about making your place in the world. It's a Newberry winner and Cushman's attention to historical detail is superb. It's a short, little book, but it's meaty and packs a lot of punch.
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