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Inventing Victoria

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In a searing historical novel, Tonya Bolden illuminates post-Reconstruction America in an intimate portrait of a determined young woman who dares to seize the opportunity of a lifetime.

As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie's dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
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Sarah Hannah
Okay, this wasn't totally the big magic I was hoping it would be based on the cover (! gah) or the description (period piece! wealthy black people! a piece of history you pretty much never read about, especially in fiction!), but it was still some magic for sure, and I would hand it to a lot of kids if I were still working as a librarian. Where it fell flat was pacing and characterization. I know, I know, that's all a book is, right? But no. There's also setting and plot skeleton and sundry. Any ...more
Kate Olson
(free review copy from the publisher)

Inventing Victoria is a young adult novel about a time period in American history not often written about, especially in YA. Set in 1880's Savannah, Georgia then Baltimore, Maryland then Washington DC, this is a story about Essie, the daughter of a prostitute - a former slave who "came to Savannah on General William Tecumseh Sherman's famous march to the sea". Essie wants to make a better life for herself against the backdrop of limited opportunities for Blac
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USOM
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

There were so many things I appreciated about the story - the setting, Essie/Victoria's determination to move up in society, her relationship with the mother figures in this book - but at the end I was craving a bit more expansion. The story, in and of itself, is one that is well rounded, all ends tied up, a fantastic setting, history, and a main character you can empathize wi
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Theresa
I read an ARC from Bloomsbury YA via NetGalley. I read Crossing Ebenezer Creek and found it really compelling. Had I not read Tonya Bolden before, I might not have picked this book up based on the cover. I wouldn’t normally read something about high society. However, I knew I liked Bolden’s storytelling and this book did not disappoint. You don’t have to have read Crossing Ebenezer Creek first, but if you did it’s nice because this book takes place after those events and lightly includes seconda ...more
Jazmen
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this one, I really truly did. It gave me upper-class post-slavery, moving on up vibes--while it delivered that, in a languid pace--it left me wanting.

I'm just going to start right off when the things I didn't like. The story itself seemed on a path to something that by the end it didn't quite meet. It was aimless and plot-less if I can say so.

The writing itself is magnificent--engaging and truly believable for the time it was set in. From the dress and the language, it read like
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Kathy Martin
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This historical fiction story tells about Essie, a young black girl in Savannah, in the 1870s and 1880s. Essie's mother is a prostitute who came to Savannah on Sherman's March to the Sea. The first few chapters tell about Essie's childhood being hidden in closets when her "uncles" came to call.

Essie was befriended by a cleaning woman who convinced her mother to send her to school. While she learned to read, she eventually left because of bullying by those who looked down on her because of her m
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Bethany
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I think Inventing Victoria is a case of a really great concept with a mediocre execution. The story follows a young black woman raised in poverty who is given the opportunity to reinvent herself and join black high society in Post-Reconstruction America. It is chock full of black history from that era, highlighting key events and figures often left out of textbooks. It's the sort of thing that could be great as assigned reading for a high school history class (and would add some much needed dime ...more
Tasha
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Set in the 1880s, this novel explores the world if Essie, a young African-American woman who grew up with a neglectful mother and was rescued from poverty and prostitution by a kindly cleaning woman. Determined to keep learning even though she left school at an early age, Essie continued to read everything she could get her hands on. While working at a boarding house, Essie meets Dorcas Vashon, a wealthy African-American woman who sees potential in Essie and offers her a way to transform her lif ...more
Tara
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
It's probably not fair to comment on a book that I am unable to finish reading, even though the reason for stopping is because I just couldn't stay with it any longer-I did look at the end and saw that it was concluding in an even more pitiful way that I would have thought. It's a nice idea, to follow a girl whose mother was a slave-turned-prosititute as the girl escapes her meager background to flourish in society. I couldn't stay with it because the conflict was so slight and uninteresting, th ...more
Amanda Sanders
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
"Inventing Victoria" was a good story, but it did not have any intensity. Essie is the daughter of the owner of a house of ill repute. She is surprisingly not bothered by any of the clientele. (If some of the men were after her, it would have added to her reasons for wanting to leave). She is however bothered by class mates at the school she attends for just one year. She quits school and educates herself at home. She does a little too well for having just one year in a classroom. That part was ...more
Quinn
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a YA historical, and this was an enlightening and grabbing read. The writing was descriptive and detailed, and you can’t help but root for the main character throughout. The reasons it isn’t five stars for me is that the ending was far too rushed and tied up, and I feel like the world-building could have been better. Regardless, I’ll be talking this up to the teens at my library 😌
Ms. Yingling
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from Netgalley

I like this author and was very interested in the topic, but it's not really a middle grade novel. ALthough done very circumspectly at the beginning, Victoria's mother is clearly a prostitute who brings various uncles into the home, and I just wouldn't feel comfortable having 6th graders happen upon it.
Krystie
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.


Melissa
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐ Interesting bits of history that I didn’t really know anything about, but the way it was written was choppy and made it hard to really connect with the story. ...more
Kate
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dorcas Vashon has given Essie a chance to better her life, by becoming Victoria. The process is slow and painful, but Victoria perseveres, even though it means leaving behind everything that she has ever known. Will Victoria be happy with her new life, or will she miss the family and friends she left behind?

I thought this was an interesting story about society of the time and how women were perceived. I also felt that it was educational about how life was like for black people during this era.
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Author and publisher Tonya Wilyce Bolden was born on March 1, 1959, in New York City to Georgia Bolden, a homemaker, and Willie Bolden, a garment center shipping manager. Bolden grew up in Harlem in a musical family and loved to read; she attended Public M.E.S. 146, an elementary school in Manhattan, and then graduated from the Chapin School, a private secondary school, in Manhattan in 1976. Bolde ...more