"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

A lot of depth is packed into this simple-looking book.  The story is set in the medieval times and is about a young girl who is an orphan and unloved by everyone.  She eventually is taken in and becomes the midwife's apprentice, learning who she is in the process. 

What I love about this book, and which is obviously why it won the Newbery Medal, is that it really puts you into the time and place it is set.  The descriptions are visceral and thick with wonderful imagery, both of the beauty and the darkness of the times.  I felt like I could literally touch and walk right into the meadows and cottages.  The main character is the same way, a very authentic feeling girl who does not know where she fits in.  The language she and the characters use also feels true to the times.  Not once does the book fall into any sort of a trite or romanticized way of looking at the world it portrays.

At times I am grateful for a book like this because it is a breath of fresh air from the complicated, dark, and romance-laden children/young adult books that are all the rage now.  A small and honest story that nevertheless can be told in any time and age - the story of a young girl learning that she too is of worth in the world.

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