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THE BETRAYAL OF MAGGIE BLAIR by Elizabeth Laird

THE BETRAYAL OF MAGGIE BLAIR

By Elizabeth Laird

Age Range: 11 - 16

Pub Date: April 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-34126-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Sixteen-year-old Maggie lives a poor life in 17th-century Scotland with her Granny, whose ill temper, foul mouth and skills at healing make her an easy target for the witch-hunting church. Escaping the mob, Maggie journeys to find her only other family. They turn out to be Covenanters, outlawed from practicing their religion, and when her Uncle Blair is jailed in far away Dunnottar Castle, it’s Maggie who makes the dangerous journey to help him, proving both her place in her new family and her independence from them. Laird, a five-time nominee for the Carnegie Medal, bases her novel loosely on her own family’s history, which may explain the occasional lack of focus in her narrative arc. However, she more than makes up for this with her fine and effortless prose, creating instantly gripping characters and setting and communicating the effect of the religious politics on the perspective of a young adult at that time. If Maggie sometimes seems oddly naïve for a person of such an age at that time, her point of view will resonate with teenagers today, as will her death-defying journey, her scrappiness and determination in the face of extreme poverty and little love. (Historical fiction. 11-16)