***Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Where I Got the Book From: Bought the paperback version (seen left) from Barnes and Noble 2007.
Everyone who has been or is a teenager has to admit it: one of the most trial times of your life is in your mid- and early teens. If you think about it, these are the times when you have the most conflicts in your life–those with family, friends, neighbors, and probably the greatest, with yourself. Young adult fiction writer Shannon Hale takes a look at these same conflicts. Though the main character of the novel Princess Academy lived in an entirely fictional, made-up time and place, she faces, accomplishes, and learns the same things that we have done and do. If you haven’t read this novel yet, it’s about time you pick it up the next time you visit the library or bookstore. There is much to learn this wonderful tale of young adulthood. Miri Larendaughter has been living in Danland’s quarry mountain village, Mt. Eskel, for all her fourteen years. While her widower Pa and older sister Marta head to the quarry to carve out the valuable linder, Miri tends her family goats, as she is forbidden from quarry work. She is convinced that she is of no use to the village, until, one day, it is announced that Mt. Eskel is the home of the Prince’s bride, and all young ladies, from 12 to 17, are to be taught and disciplined in an academy. Here, Miri encounters several obstacles, including the cruelty of their tutor, Olana, and the unkindness of the other academy girls. Tutor Olana teaches the girls reading, writing, conversation, poise, and diplomacy to name a few, but her discipline is harsh, as she slaps the girls’ palms at the slightest misbehaviors, and locks them in a dark closet if they stand up for themselves. Miri learns her own gifts, and is especially recognized by Prince Stefan himself. But does Miri really want to marry the prince and become a lowlander for life, or should she stay in her mountain village where here childhood friend is?
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Although it is a work of fantasy, all is brought to life by the fantastic lyrical writing. There is a reason why this is a Newbery Honor book, though I personally believe that this should have won the Newbery Medal.
Pros: The writing, the characters, the setting, the quarry songs at the beginning of every chapter–everything about this book is wonderful.
Cons: Honestly can’t think of any, except maybe the title might seem irksome to a few who will stay away from it thinking it’s a fluffy, princess-y or fairy book. If you’ve read other reviews, you’ll be sick and tired of hearing that it isn’t. I’ll be the one-thousandth person to tell you it’s not.
Red Flags: As stated by Common Sense Media, a teeny-tiny bit of violence: fighting, murder, and a death. Nothing terribly graphic though.
Genre: Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Original Release Date: July 6, 2005
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