Friday, April 17, 2015

Me on The Revelation of Louisa May

Title: The Revelation of Louisa May
Author: Michaela MacColl
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Louisa May Alcott can hardly believe her ears—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and her father won't do anything to stop her. How is Louisa to find the time to write her stories if she has to add taking care of her father and sister to her list of chores? And why can't she escape the boredom of her small town to have an adventure of her own? Little does Louisa know just how interesting her small world is about to become. Before long she is juggling her stubborn father, a fugitive slave who is seeking safety along the Underground Railroad, and possibly even love where she least expects it. Add a slave catcher to the mix, and Louisa has her hands full.

The Revelation of Louisa May is a curious mystery set in the teenage years of one of America's most loved authors. This is a welcome look into her life, into her struggles, and into a complicated web of secrets.

Louisa May is portrayed as a smart and emotional girl, an opinionated girl. One who cares for her family, one who doesn't always understand the choices her parents make. Poor, her family relies on a number of others for support. Louisa's relationship with her father highlights this. In her eyes, he's a man who would love to find work by writing essays and speaking at social engagements, but no one will hire him. In her eyes, he just won't work. But it's more difficult than that. She's a similar way, knowing that to help the family more she would have to leave Concord to find work, but then who would help around the house? How would she find time to write her stories?

It's intriguing to see these imagined moments in American history. The days when Louisa May Alcott was a young girl, before she'd yet to pen a single word of  Little Women. The days when her family was struggling for money. The days of Thoreau and Emerson, their move away from industry and excess and back to nature, to living simply at Waldon Pond. The days of caring for your fellow man and woman, no matter their status, level of education, or race. The days of slaves on the run, travelling the Underground Railroad north into Canada where they and their families could be safe.

These fictionalized slice of life mystery novels of MacColl's are ones I've come to enjoy. The peek into history, into the young life of a now famous and well-regarded literary figure, is intriguing. Perhaps these events didn't truly happen, but what if something vaguely similar ever did? As with the previous novels, Louisa May Alcott was a young girl once, with hopes and dreams. I would recommend this to fans of the previous novels as well as those looking for YA featuring American history and a head-strong female protagonist.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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