Beverly Diehl's Reviews > The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
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Sep 26, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: coming-of-age, classics, historical-fiction, ya, romance

4.5 stars. Read this a long time ago, and recently revisited, to see how it held up. Still a brilliant book.

Kit's hard to like, at first - more than a little spoiled, so that it can be gratifying to see her come down for a hard landing. Then again, she's 16, terrified and grieving, so a little slack can be cut.

It's a universal theme, especially for those in a hostile home environment - marry this person, and escape! Kit figures out in time that it would be no escape at all, simply trading one cage for a larger, prettier one.

I loved how Hannah, the Quaker "witch" was wise and kind and warm, BUT she was also afraid, and sometimes confused; she wasn't perfect.

The one thing that bugged me is that it's mentioned that Kit had her own "Negro girl," which loss is supposedly only a little less sharp than that of her grandfather, "the little African slave who had been her shadow for twelve years." Yet this soul-sister doesn't even get a name, nor is it ever mentioned again that Kit misses her. I "get" that the author wanted to focus on other issues than slavery in this book, and it could open up a big can of worms - if she was a pseudo-sister, how could anyone justify selling her? Why didn't Kit sell off one of her trunks of fancy dresses, and bought passage for both of them? Many white people in 1687 DID think that Negroes weren't quite whole human beings, so it's not an inaccurate depiction of the period. :( However, that Kit seemingly dismisses her so quickly and moves on, made her less sympathetic to me.

Almost all the characters in the book are layered and multi-dimensional - with the exception of Goodwife Cruff hiss, boo and Saint Mercy (who I liked, but who reminded me of Beth in Little Women, except Mercy gets a happier ending). I like that Kit's relationship with her aunt, uncle, and cousins changed over time. The bad guys also did good things, the good guys sometimes chickened out from doing the right thing, just like real life. The dangers of superstition and religious extremism - still just as valid as when the book was written - or the time period in which it was set.
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