I have reviewed many middle grade books here on my blog. Most of them are fantasy or just plain fiction but not many of them have been historical fiction. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so I was interested in seeing how this author brought the history of the south into middle grade fiction.
Middle grade books are tricky, I think. It takes special care to get the voice right- not too old and not too young. History is especially tricky because there has to be a balance of history and story so the reader stays engaged and not bogged down with facts.
I feel like this book captured the feel of the south in the 1800's through the eyes of two young girls. The author did a good job of hitting on the hot topics of that day while keeping the focus on the happier side of things. I never felt overwhelmed or burdened but I understood that there were underlying tensions. I think the author does a good job of explaining her goal with this book. She says, "Although Redcliffe is historically accurate, it is less historical fiction and more a story about two ‘tween girls who live in the mid-1800s. Human nature today is not much different from the way it was in 1840 – people still feel love, jealousy, anger, and fear in 2014 in the same degree as they did in the past and will in the future. As an English professor, I try to show my students that human emotions and basic behaviors remain unchanged despite the historical period in which the people live. As in 1840, pre-teens today must cope with social norms, negotiate blended families, and manage conflicting messages of innocence and morality. Cassie and Caroline also balance the secrets of their relationship against the accepted customs and morals of their era.
Redcliffe has a light, cheerful tone; although it doesn’t ignore the realities of life in the antebellum south, the story inspires its readers by maximizing the positive and minimizing the unpleasant."
I think the author accomplished her goal. This was a gentle book, easy to read without anything gripping or climactic. It definitely gave me a history lesson. It was southern plantation living at it's best with two girls who were easy to like.
The image above is linked to Amazon where you can purchase this book.