Friday, March 2, 2012

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare

Genre: Historical fiction, young adult
Publisher, Year: Houghton Mifflin, 1958
Other Works: The Bronze Bow
Flags: Teen angst
Rating: A+, or Must Read Now!
Premise: A young girl undertakes a long journey to live with her relatives in a Puritan town in newly settled Connecticut. As she struggles to fit in, she finds a true friend in an unlikely place--a friendship that may cost her dearly in ways she doesn't understand.

This is a childhood favorite of many, but I'd never had the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately, the books my teachers picked in 6th and 7th grade were forgettable, since I truly have little recollection of what we read in class. I wish I'd had the foresight to read Speare back then, but I was too busy with The Face on the Milk Carton.

I first encountered Speare in college. We read The Bronze Bow in my children's lit class. It was excellent, and there were many times that I passed by The Witch of Blackbird Pond in the Newberry winners section of the library and thought, I should read that, but then never got around to it. I'm so glad I finally pulled the trigger.

After the death of her grandfather, Kat braves a journey from Barbados, where she was brought up, to a faraway colony in Connecticut, where her mother's sister lives. Her aunt married a Puritan and adopted that lifestyle--one which Kat has had little exposure. Her fancy dresses and numerous belongings have no place in the austere simplicity of her new home. Kat has a hard time adjusting to life in Connecticut, but then she finds solace in an unlikely friendship with an old lady. However, this friendship, one that is supremely important to her, makes waves in her community, sparking a conflict that will rise to immense proportions.

I loved Kat--she's spunky, she's passionate, and although she often makes mistakes in her new home, she's intelligent and caring. She's not frivolous. She is a perfect foil to those with whom she must learn to live, and she grows up quickly as she faces each conflict. Speare shows a detailed and, from what I know, an accurate depictation of what life must have been like then--from the scarcity of resources to the tumultuous political atmosphere to the mob mentality that fear incites.

This book is full of lively characters, wending there way through the mire of life, through prejudice, through freedom of thought and speech, through the duty one has to family and friends and how that can sometimes lead to impossible situations and decisions that are often difficult. This is one I'll be saving on my shelf to read with my daughter one day. And maybe I'll get it down a time or two, just to revisit a wonderful story.


LongLive said...

I love this book! Totally reccomend it to anyone interested in historical fiction like me! So good:)

Anonymous said...

WOBP is my favorite book.
Can't wait for the movie to come out! :)