Erin's Reviews > The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
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's review
Sep 27, 09

bookshelves: classroom-library, middle-grade
Read in September, 2009

When I picked this book up, I was already a big fan of Cushman's previous Newberry nod, Catherine Called Birdy. The Midwife's Apprentice demonstrates the same irreverent sense of humor, and the same type of young female character who is trying to negotiate/find her "place" in medieval English society. Unlike Birdy, however, Alyce has no one else telling her what is expected of her. Instead, her struggles are of a different kind.

An orphan who does not even know her given name, Alyce (originally called Brat and Beetle before she decides to call herself Alyce) has to work for her table scraps and fend for herself against the village boys who taunt her. By chance, she is found in a dung-heep by a Midwife named Jane who takes her in as an apprentice of sorts, but who does not trust Alyce with the secrets of her trade. As time passes, Alyce is slowly able to work around Jane's distrust in order to pick up some important tricks of the Midwife's trade, but it is not until the last few chapters that she learns the most important lesson of all...to never give up! If it seems like you have failed the first time, that just means you should try even harder on the second, and the third, etc.
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