Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book through a notice from the author for the purpose of an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
This was the image she wanted to share, the truth she wanted to show to the world.
She had found her voice.
As far as my reading for pleasure goes, I got my start with young adult historical fiction about America’s past while I was still a young adult, with novels by Ann Rinaldi. Ella Wood by Michelle Isenhoff took me back to that same brand of enjoyment, and the story grew on me as I read.
Emily is no perfectly angelic protagonist. It’s her independent thinking, her ambition as an artist, and her gradually shifting views on slavery in the South (the very institution her family and the society around her depends on to maintain their way of life) that make her a compelling heroine, particularly through the way her gift as an artist informs her thoughts on humanity, and vise versa. There’s a richness in her growth in character over the course of the book, intertwining well with the brink and onset of the American Civil War.
I haven’t an absolute dislike of love triangles in novels, though when the romantic involvement and displayed affection between one party and both of his/her love interests is essentially equal, the alternating back and forth between the relationships isn’t something I can quite wrap my mind around or get into, as turned out to be the case here.
The third-person narrator uses identifiers for characters such as “the black woman” or “the colored girl” a good deal more than, say, “the white boy” or “the white woman,” which could inadvertently undermine the story’s message on human sameness just a tad. Also, I was admittedly disappointed to find the story end with a total cliffhanger. I personally feel more “cordially welcomed” and thus inclined to read the next book in a series when the preceding book has a natural conclusion, one that may leave inviting promise for a continuation, than when the story simply cuts off.
Again, though, I enjoyed this read overall, particularly after hitting around the halfway mark, which pretty much became the “unputdownable” point for me.