Monday, October 30, 2017

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

Summary:  Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean islands she has left behind.  She is like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world.  And in the stern Puritan community of her relatives, she soon feels caged as well, and lonely.  In the meadows, the only place where she can feel completely free, she meets another lone and mysterious figure, the old woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond.  But when their friendship is discovered, Kit faces suspicion, fear, and anger.  She herself is accused of witchcraft!  (Summary from back of book)

My Review:  The Witch of Blackbird Pond has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, sending out sticky tendrils of guilt and shame in my general direction.  Something along the lines of: Hey!!  I'm an award winning classic work of YA historical fiction!!!  Why haven't you read me yet, Mindy?!  You call yourself a READER!?!?  Do books ever do that to you?  Mock you from their place on the shelf??  No?  Just me then...well, this is awkward.

Anyway...

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is an incredibly easy read that paints a stark picture of live in the colonies in the late 1600s. It begins with a young Katherine "Kit" Tyler aboard a ship on her way to her aunt's home in Wethersfield, Connecticut where she hopes to find lodging after her grandfather's passing.  Kit soon discovers that everyday life in their strict household is vastly different from the freedoms she had enjoyed living with her grandfather in Barbados, and she struggles to find her place in a Puritan community that is far from welcoming.  As an adult I liked the book well enough on a superficial level but felt it lacked the depth and teeth to be truly memorable.  Honestly, I was a little distracted as a I read her story.  I spent most of the book waiting for the witchcraft hammer to drop and read with a sense of impending doom.  It took a while, but when the hammer fell and things came to rather swift and neatly-tied resolution, I felt a little let down.  That having been said, I imagine the younger readers in my household would enjoy it exactly as written.   Older readers looking for a bit more bite and texture might set their gaze on The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller's set around the same time period.  That having been said, I think The Witch of Blackbird Pond  would be a good introduction or companion book for a middle or YA reader studying the history of the area. 

My Rating:  3.75 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Some racist ideologies expressed that were typical of the time and some very mild discussion of witchcraft.

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