Shannon Hale (read July 2006)
I read this young adult novel at the recommendation of my daughter, Katie. It is a retelling of the Grimms' fairytale, one which I knew nothing about. The New York Times Book Review included this sentiment: "In layer upon layer of detail a beautiful coming-of-age story emerges, a tale about learning to rescue yourself rather than falling accidentally into happily-ever-after."
To quote Katie, "It has a perfect mixture of adventure, mystery, shock, terror, sadness, hapiness, romance, and treason." We are both anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sequel, Enna Burning, which we ordered from amazon.com and should be here any day. (Katie's at camp this week, so I will patiently (*grimace*) wait for her to read it first. We enjoyed Shannon Hale's writing so much we felt safe in ordering Princess Academy as well.
Ani, the main character, had very little self-confidence as a child. One day her father praised her and "she felt her chin tremble a little and covered it with a hand. His assurance that she was wonderful was a stab in the soreness of her insecurity."
As she was contemplating her journey to a far off kingdom for an arranged marriage "she told herself, 'no more crying.' It was not difficult. Her eyes were dry and sore. She concentrated on forming the images and sensations of her Kildenrean life into a body, and in her mind buring that body, peacefully, next to her father's tomb in the soft summer earth."
I won't give any lead-up to this next quote, because it would reveal too much of the story. "She had leaned against the idea of her mother's perfection all her childhood, as though it were the cane to her lameness. But that crutch had not served her." Ani starts to think of some of the things she has accomplished and says to herself, "I've done that much. What more can I do?"
One final quote: "Sometimes it'd be nice just to hold something real in your hands that felt like a measure of your worth."
I rate Goose Girl a resounding 5 out of 5.