My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 13th 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Race, Gender, Poverty
After reading a book with protagonists that did not inspire any reaction in me but one of absolute indifference, it felt almost magical to read a story with a character that absolutely popped off the page and claimed her rightful place as the heroine of this book. I live for these types of characters with personality, strength, ambition and a desire for change. Jo hasn’t had it easy at all but she’s working hard to support herself, survive and make something of herself. Historical Fiction is a hit or miss for me, because it can be more boring than watching a hamster go about its day. (Since I once had one I can tell you it’s very, very boring.) Luckily instead of incorporating every historical element possible in her story, Stacey Lee discussed key subjects that were of great importance to Jo, such as poverty, race and gender. All of which I was able to understand and all of which made me feel invested in this story.
I also have to mention that Stacey Lee’s writing is absolutely elegant. I find that I’ve enjoyed most novels with elegant writing styles that I’ve read, because effortless elegance sooths me somehow and makes me more receptive to the author’s message. Choppy writing makes me pause but elegant writing flows for me and makes me wish there were no commas or period marks to make me pause my reading even if for a single second. Jo is, unsurprisingly, a very engaging heroine. Her voice is strong and she is the type of person who would stand out in a crowd if she has something to convey. I adored reading her brutally honest letters. I wish she were a real person who kept diaries all throughout her life so that I can read them because I’m sure they would be impactful and so, so interesting. I can’t wait for everyone to read this important story and meet Jo.
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