Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Shakeress, by Kimberley Heuston

In the late 1820s, tragedy strikes Naomi's family as her parents and younger brother are killed in a fire. Like a period melodrama, they are sent to live in the uncaring arms of Aunt Thankful, but Naomi comes to realize that their salvation lies with joining the Shakers. And while that provides comfort, it only temporarily delays Naomi's own realization that her place lies elsewhere. Through years of searching, Naomi attempts to find that place for herself.

An unusual historical novel and an even more unusual YA story, Heuston walks a fine line between historical accuracy and anachronistic feminine empowerment, but the result is a beautiful piece that is true to both history and character. Nice period details and a heroine who is both strong and believable. As one reviewer noted, the writing also beautifully depicts the spiritual dimension of Naomi's search. That's icing on the cake in the remarkable work.

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