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“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read.”
Publisher: HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,
Material: hard cover
Summary: This book is considered an “alternative history” rather than traditional historical fiction due to its presentation of advanced inventions (fuel cell automobile technology for one) and historical facts that don’t quite align with the textbooks. The main character, Sophie, is a student at a boarding school in Scotland during the 1930s. She is drawn into a mystery when her friend Mikael finds a medium dead and is arrested for her murder. Using her powers as a medium and stealth, Sophie uncovers political intrigue and a plot to reprogram emotions in the country’s girls, saving lives and finally finding her place in society. This is a young adult mystery for teens.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 to 12; read yourself: 12 and up
Adult Reader Reaction: This book is very fast paced. I really liked the twists and turns that it took me on as I read. I wanted to continue reading to find out what would happen to Sophie and her friends.
Pros: This is an engaging, fast read for young adults.
Cons: I had a hard time with understanding the concept of an alternate history because it was not explained at the beginning of the book. I could not figure out if the book was historical fiction or fantasy. Finally, I read the author’s note, included at the end of the book. It would have been a lot less confusing had I read that first.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. It is an enjoyable read, but not something I would consider a “must read” or classic book. If a teen I knew was interested in mystery and historical fiction, this would be a great purchase for him or her!
Educational Themes: It would be interesting to read this book and then discuss which “historical” aspects were a real part of history and which were fictional. Students could do some sort of alternative history writing assignment-receive a certain historical era and be prompted to write a story using historical fact and fiction.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 6.8
Literary Categories: Fiction - mystery, Young Adult