At fourteen, Alis has never been outside her strict religious community. But when her parents arrange for her to marry a forty-year-old man, she flees desperately to the dangerous, unfamiliar city. She learns quickly that the only way to survive there is to become a thief--or worse. Facing an impossible choice between a forced marriage or life on the streets, Alis seizes control of her own fate. But the path she chooses sets off a disastrous chain of events that leave her accused of murder. Steadfastly loyal, Alis must decide: will she betray a loved one or sacrifice herself?
British author Rich's debut novel opens onto an unusually fraught scenario-and the tension only increases as the story develops. In the ironically named Freeborne, a strict religious community, 14-year-old Alis is told she must marry the 40-year-old minister: it is "the Maker's will." Readers will feel her terror as she instinctively thinks about seeking help but pictures the nearby houses, "all dark at this time, shuttered against the winter cold." Deciding to join her runaway brother in "the city," Alis lands in disastrous circumstances, finds an ally (and romantic interest) and then indirectly costs him his life. Devastated, wary of bringing harm to anyone else, Alis returns to Freeborne-and the minister. The rich plot continues to thicken until Alis is put on trial for a crime she has not committed; the proceedings, the quasi-historical setting and the moral complexities of the themes may remind readers of The Crucible. Rich's sympathetic portrayal of Alis and her desperate struggle to exercise free will in a theocracy will have audiences firmly gripped. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
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1 . Very Good
Posted January 24, 2010 by Chrissy , LititzGreat description and story telling
February 18, 2009
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