Couldn’t resist posting this review author Lissa Price just shared with me. I’ve highlighted my favorite parts — just because I can! Love it when someone truly understands what I’ve tried to do with a character and story.
Rose, Caroline Starr. (2012). May B. New York: Random House/Schwartz & Wade.
In this novel in verse, because of her family’s financial needs, twelve-year-old May Betterly is sent to work for a newlywed couple on the Kansas frontier. But the Oblingers are having trouble from the start. Try as he might, Mr. Oblinger just can’t please his bride who longs for the civilized life in Ohio. When she flees, he, in turn, goes after her but doesn’t return. May is left to fend for herself with a limited amount of food and no one nearby to help. At first conscientious about doing her chores, May becomes less and less concerned with them until a blizzard traps her inside the house. The likeable, sympathetic May contends with hunger, boredom, a hungry wolf, and her own personal demons about her inability to read, having been encouraged by one teacher and shamed by another. When she finally makes her way out of the soddy, she knows that she can do anything and has become determined to live—or die—on her own terms. The book’s poetic lines evoke a strong sense of place, allowing readers to savor the prairie’s beauty and feel the bitter cold of the ever-present snow while pausing to admire the pioneer spirit of those who moved westward. By the time May finally opens that can of peaches she’s been saving for so long, she knows that she has earned their sweetness. Readers will be forced to put themselves in May’s shoes while imagining what they would have done in her situation.
– Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman
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