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HAZEL by Julie Hearn

HAZEL

By Julie Hearn

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2504-0
Publisher: Atheneum

A wealthy girl in early 20th-century England is exposed to the suffragist movement and eventually shipped off to her grandparents in the Caribbean in this uneven work of historical fiction. Twelve-year-old Hazel Mull-Dare, the daughter of the protagonist of Hearn’s earlier novel Ivy (2008), is heartbroken when her beloved father suffers a breakdown and disappears into a sanatorium. At the same time, she and her friends, including a devious American, decide to stage an action in the name of women’s voting rights. The resulting scandal provides the impetus for her banishment to the family’s sugar plantation, where the naïve, privileged Hazel receives a lesson in the perils of post-colonial living. It is here, finally, that this novel really shines—replete with rich imagery and a nicely eerie folk legend. Most successfully explored is Hazel’s realization of her own family’s culpability in the historical and continual abuse of those they held as slaves. However, while intriguing concepts and even flashes of humor abound throughout, the section set in England stretches on interminably, leaving many threads unresolved. (Historical fiction. 12-16)