In Pompeii, in the summer of A.D. 79, Julia and Mitka appear to lead opposite lives. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy ship-builder; Mitka is an orphan. Julia bears the Curse of Venus--a withered arm; Mitka's beauty turns heads. Julia is free; Mitka is her slave.
Then Julia learns that her parents are planning to put her in the service of the Temple of Damia, the center of a cultish new religion, and Mitka will be sold to an awful man who plans to make her his concubine.
But when Mt. Vesuvius erupts, Julia's and Mitka's fates are forever altered, forcing them both to face the true meaning of freedom.
Gr 6-8-In this compelling novel set in A.D. 79, 12-year-old Julia, born with a deformed arm, is the youngest sister in the Petreius family. Cornelia, her self-centered older sister, is to be married, and Julia and her slave, Sura, are caught up in the wedding preparations. Because of her arm, Julia knows she will never marry and, in fact, she discovers to her horror that she is to be placed in the slightly suspect Temple of Damia as a priestess and Sura is to be sold as a concubine to a lecherous man. As the girls plot to escape their fates, Vesuvius rumbles and eventually erupts, annihilating the city and irrevocably changing the lives of the few survivors. Lasky seamlessly weaves a great deal of history into this novel, though she does change a few minor details, which she mentions in an end note. She vividly portrays a wide swath of society-rich and poor, slaves and gladiators, priests and priestesses as well as the working people of Pompeii. Her well-rounded main characters exist in a world on the brink of disaster, a fact well known to most readers. Even so, Lasky effectively uses subtle indications of the impending eruption to increase the suspense and keep readers on the edge of their seats.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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May 16, 2007
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